The American Trucking Associations (ATA) is calling for the trucking industry’s workforce to be prioritized along with other essential workers when it comes to establishing a national vaccine strategy.
The call emerged yesterday in a series of letters to the White House, the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, President-elect Joe Biden, and the National Governors Association. And it focuses on the role the trucking industry will play in distributing the vaccine itself.
“Our workforce represents a central and critical link in the nation’s supply chain and will play an essential role in the imminent Covid-19 vaccine distribution process,” says the letter signed by Bill Sullivan, ATA’s executive vice-president – advocacy.
“As the trucking industry is called upon to deliver vaccines across the country, it is imperative that truck drivers have prioritized access to the vaccine to minimize the potential for supply chain delays and disruptions.”
The Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) has advised provincial trucking associations to make similar requests in their respective jurisdictions because vaccine distribution is a provincial role, says Stephen Laskowski, president of the Canadian Trucking Alliance.
“The federal government is procuring the vaccine, but they’re distributing to the provinces based on an allocation formula.”
The association is supporting calls to prioritize the elderly, those who already have the virus, frontline healthcare workers, and those who have pre-existing conditions that make them susceptible to Covid-19, he adds.
“We’re very sensitive, as an industry, to the needs of that first group.”
But the Ontario Trucking Association (OTA) has formally asked its province to include members of the trucking industry to be included in the next layer of those who are prioritized for the vaccine, Laskowski says.
“Just as efforts were necessary to support prioritized distribution of PPE to the dedicated professionals who ensure the continuity of our nation’s supply chain, we must now focus our efforts to ensure that these same critical infrastructure workers have prioritized access to the Covid-19 vaccine as it becomes available,” Sullivan wrote in the ATA letters.
Those letters also carried a warning about the consequences that would emerge if members of the trucking industry weren’t protected.
“The trucking industry is proud to play an outsized role in Covid-19 response and recovery efforts, and we ask that you consider the essential nature of the trucking workforce as you implement plans for vaccine distribution,” he wrote.
“As we saw at the outset of the pandemic, when supply lines are disrupted, consequences are fast to follow.”