This week, the hope brought by the Christmas season seems to have finally seeped into the news cycle. With one COVID-19 vaccine already shipping out and approval of another not far behind, we all have something to look forward to in the new year – the long-awaited end to the pandemic and the return to “normal” life. For the past nine months, the trucking industry has been at the forefront of the effort to ensure Americans have the supplies they need to survive through the shutdowns and stay-at-home orders, and now it is working to distribute the vaccine that is expected to bring the pandemic to an end.
But as professional truck drivers continue placing their own health and wellbeing – and their ability to see their families over the holiday season – at risk, a new consideration has emerged. Who should be prioritized for the COVID-19 vaccine? Naturally, there is consistent agreement that doctors, nurses, and others in the medical field should be first on the list, but who comes after that?
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) has released recommendations for who should be offered COVID-19 vaccination in the initial phase of the vaccination program while there is a limited vaccine supply. In addition to healthcare workers, ACIP recommended that residents of long-term care facilities be included in Phase 1a. For Phase 1b, ACIP recommended the vaccine efforts be extended to critical infrastructure workers, which would include professional truck drivers and others in our industry.
While the CDC does not have the final say on who is ultimately vaccinated, these recommendations will help inform the plans put into place by individual states’ governors and their corresponding health agencies. To encourage further support for this vaccination framework, TCA joined with other industry partners in a letter to leaders of the Senate Commerce Committee asking them to encourage state-level elected official to follow the CDC’s recommendations. The letter stated, “We appreciate the steps this Committee has taken to protect workers and keep the supply chain moving forward, and we ask that you consider the essential nature of our workforces as broader plans for vaccine distribution are solidified.”
As vaccine distribution becomes more widespread and the country reaches herd immunity to the virus, TCA looks forward to seeing the lasting essentiality of trucking make its mark in the minds of the American people. Now more than ever before, our fellow citizens are recognizing the efforts this industry makes each and every day. We are proud that our truck drivers and hardworking industry professionals are finally being seen in their true light – the backbone of our economy which holds this country together through even the most trying of times.