The country is rejoicing at the recent news that the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine has been approved and that millions of doses are now shipping around the country. Johnson & Johnson’s offering provides new hope, particularly because only one dose is needed instead of two, and because it can be stored at normal refrigerated temperatures instead of the subzero temperatures required for the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines. Yet, with this excitement comes a concern that has been raised time and again from the trucking industry – how and when will the mobile workforce of American professional truck drivers receive the vaccine?
TCA continues to be blown away by the dedication of the hardworking men and women in our industry to continue delivering for their neighbors in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our workforce of highway heroes continues to put their own health and wellbeing on the line to ensure the vaccine makes it safely to its final destination, all while wondering when they will be able to receive their own shots. The sacrifices these individuals make daily on behalf of the greater good cannot be overstated.
That is why TCA, along with many other industry partners, recently sent a letter to Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), encouraging the use of truck stops as mobile vaccination sites. As the letter points out, doing so “would alleviate significant challenges that truck drivers currently face in receiving an expedient vaccine.” Professional truck drivers, particularly those working in the truckload industry, are rarely in one place for any significant amount of time, and the proof of residency requirements imposed by many states make it virtually impossible for our mobile workforce to be vaccinated under the current standards. Furthermore, since two of the three currently approved vaccines require two does, drivers need the flexibility to receive both shots in different locations as they travel around the country.
Creative, outside-the-box thinking is desperately needed in a time such as this, when the unprecedented nature of the pandemic means that preestablished methods of vaccine distribution simply will not work for all of our most vulnerable frontline workers. President Biden’s goal of vaccinating 100 million people in 100 days is certainly laudable, but it cannot be achieved without considering the flexibility TCA and our industry partners have requested. We stand ready to help in any way possible and urge the CDC to prioritize those in the trucking industry as the vaccination effort continues to expand.