A coalition of trucking groups has issued a letter urging the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to designate truck stops and travel plazas as COVID-19 vaccination sites.
Natso, which represents truck stop owners and operators, said in the letter the nature of the trucking and truck stop industries offers a unique opportunity to distribute vaccines to essential workers such as truck drivers and travel plaza employees.
“From the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, our industries have been directly involved in the fight against this pandemic,” the letter states. “Truck stops and travel plazas serve as the home away from home for the nation’s 3 million professional truck drivers.”
In the letter, the groups also pointed out truckers are generally unable to access many facilities, including medical sites, while driving a Class 8 vehicle. Additionally, they suggested truck drivers should be able to receive a vaccine in a state other than the one in which they reside due to their long stretches of time away from home. Also, the coalition stated truckers should be able to get their second vaccine at a different truck stop than their first injection, as it would be unlikely they would have the ability to return to the first location on a specific date.
Besides Natso, the groups involved in the letter include American Trucking Associations, National Tank Truck Carriers, the National Association of Small Trucking Companies, the National Private Truck Council, the St. Christopher Truckers Relief Fund and the Truckload Carriers Association.
“We cannot expect drivers — some of whom are actively transporting the vaccine — to return to their home domicile in order to receive the vaccine,” said Dan Horvath, vice president of safety policy for ATA. “Removing the red tape and using truck stops and travel plazas as mobile distribution sites exclusively for our industry will assist in making the vaccine available for those who choose to receive it.”
Efforts to vaccinate truckers are underway in Canada, as well. Ontario government leaders are preparing to move into Phase 2 of the province’s vaccine distribution plan in April. Besides mobile clinics, hospitals and mass vaccination clinics, Ontario officials are working with health care industry representatives to offer vaccinations at pharmacies and primary care settings.
Groups slated to receive the vaccine in Ontario’s second phase include older adults, people who live in “hot spots” and congregate settings, individuals with specific health conditions and certain workers who cannot work from home.
“[The Ontario Trucking Association] would once again like to thank the Ford government for its leadership during this crisis and for the inclusion of our sector in the Phase 2 of the vaccination rollout,” said OTA President Stephen Laskowski.