Should Truckers Be Priorities for Receiving COVID Vaccines?

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected people from all walks of life. Some of the effects and consequences are apparent–illness, death, loss of income, limited mobility, and restricted freedom. Others aren’t quite as obvious–loneliness, neglect, alienation, and depression. 

Even the availability of vaccines that offer some measure of protection against the virus isn’t without controversy. Issues have arisen regarding who should get top priority in the distribution of the vaccine. While some people are obviously first contenders, where do truckers and other less obvious essential workers lie when it comes to receiving COVID vaccines?

Who gets top priority? 

Few would argue that front liner workers deserve to be the first priority when the vaccine is distributed. Doctors, nurses, emergency medical personnel, caregivers, and hospital staff should be among the first to be vaccinated due to their work’s crucial nature. 

At present, vaccination is prioritized for healthcare workers and residents of long-term care facilities as part of Phase 1A of the immunization program. 

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices places educators, the incarcerated, and the homeless next in line as part of Phase 1B of the vaccination program. Also part of Phase 1B are retail workers and childcare personnel.

But as LA Transportation Insurance has acknowledged, other workers and professionals are equally deserving of attention. In particular, more thought should be given to protecting truckers from COVID-19. 

Why truckers should be among the first to be vaccinated 

Why should truckers be among those prioritized for vaccination? Truck drivers perform many crucial roles during the pandemic. From transporting goods, food, and non-food items to delivering medicines and medical supplies, truckers are more essential than ever in the time of COVID. 

It might even be argued that the role fulfilled by truckers is a lot more important than we might think. Given the urgency of transporting medicines and supplies–and the vaccine itself–truckers are crucial in containing the spread of the virus. In fact, they may even play an essential part in putting an end to the pandemic. 

By the very nature of their work, truck drivers are “essential to the functioning of society.” Interestingly enough, this is the definition of a “frontline essential worker,” as outlined by the CDC.  

But amazingly, truckers seemingly aren’t given the same priority as other equally essential workers–far from it. While medical personnel, healthcare workers, and the elderly are scheduled for vaccination in the 1A and 1B phases of the immunization program, truckers will have to wait until Phase 1C. 

The risk of deprioritizing truckers 

Deprioritizing truck drivers in this manner isn’t only unfair to those in the trucking industry. It could also disrupt the supply chain, and consequently, put many more people at risk. 

Because of their crucial role in delivering medicines and other essential supplies, people in need of the vaccine may have to wait much longer than necessary. As some critics of the planned vaccination schedule have put it: no truck drivers, no vaccine. 

Experts outside the medical and transport industries have weighed in with their opinion in support of prioritizing truckers. Wayne State University’s Michael Belzer, a professor of economics, made a particularly compelling argument for pushing truck drivers to the front of the list. 

The author of Sweatshops on Wheels: Winners and Losers in Trucking Deregulation, Belzer said that immunizing truckers is crucial for the supply chain to work. The professor is one of the most vocal supporters of the rights of truckers. 

Increased workload and demand 

Others argue that truckers serve an even more critical role in society since the pandemic began.

UPS racked up a staggering record of almost 25 million package deliveries per day. This is the equivalent of the daily deliveries during the holiday season. Only this time, the drivers aren’t getting any additional perks. 

One UPS driver confirmed the grueling nature of the work truckers have had to do since the pandemic. According to 50-year-old Dale Pink, truckers at the firm have been pulling long hours since March 2020. For Pink, the subsequent nine months have been one long “peak season.” 

This increased demand on truckers has made it even more crucial for them to be bumped up the line for COVID vaccination. As Director Denis Taylor of the Teamsters Package Division put it, truckers have been on the front lines since COVID began. For Taylor, truck drivers are essential for keeping the supply chain running and will continue to play an important role as long as the pandemic remains in effect. 

About Arroyo Insurance Services

Arroyo Insurance Services was officially established in 1986, but we have roots dating back to before 1950. One of California’s leading client-oriented and independently owned agencies, we have over 140 employees with a combined experience of over 450 years, spread across 11 locations. We are committed to providing the best insurance and risk management services at the most competitive premiums, and backing it with hands-on service tailored to our customers’ needs. For more information on how we can mitigate your risks, contact us today at (877) 220-4769.