ATA wants higher vaccine priority for drivers

The American Trucking Associations (ATA) wants the Biden administration to reclassify truck drivers into higher priority status for receiving COVID-19 vaccines.

In a letter sent Wednesday to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the ATA and 49 state trucking associations requested that the CDC move truckers into phase 1b of its COVID-19 vaccine recommendation from their current status in phase 1c.

The latest recommendations from the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), issued on Dec. 22, place “frontline essential workers” in phase 1b and “other essential workers” in phase 1c — a distinction with regard to the classification of truck drivers, the groups point out, that is inconsistent with guidelines issued in March last year by the Department of Homeland Security which classified truck drivers as essential to the nation’s infrastructure during the pandemic.

“In many ways, truckers are the linchpin of our nation’s entire frontline response, providing daily, direct and indispensable support to all essential workers,” the groups state. “Health care providers, first responders, corrections officers, manufacturers, grocery clerks and teachers all rely on trucks for the equipment and supplies needed to carry out their professional duties. Moreover, high-risk populations are now depending on the trucking workforce to deliver vaccine supplies to every corner of the country.”

The groups also cited the increase in cases of more contagious variants of the virus that are spreading rapidly across the U.S.

“Notably, a recent study of increased death rates during the pandemic conducted by the University of California, San Francisco, suggests truck drivers are among the population at greatest risk,” the groups warn. “Including America’s professional truck drivers in phase 1b will help ensure the supply chain keeps running, essential frontline workers have the resources they need and high-risk populations have continued access to the vaccine.”

U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., announced Wednesday that she plans to push the Biden administration to give higher vaccine priority to food haulers. 

“We are now seeing international news, national news and local news about the challenges we are facing moving food, and I want to make sure our transportation infrastructure workers are prioritized to get those vaccines and we can continue to move product through the United States,” Cantwell said.

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