Logistics industry trade groups are urging government leaders and public health officials to consider adding workers in transportation and warehousing to the first round of Covid-19 vaccinations, citing the supply chain’s essential role in delivering food, medicine, and other supplies during the pandemic.
Representatives in trucking, transportation, food service, and other industries have been increasingly vocal about the issue, especially as vaccination efforts began in the United States this week.
Mark S. Allen, president and CEO of the International Foodservice Distributors Association (IFDA), emphasized the point in a December 11 letter to governors and public health officials in all 50 states.
“IFDA represents foodservice distributors who deliver food and other products to facilities including restaurants, hospitals, long-term care facilities, schools, and other operations that provide food away from home,” he wrote, emphasizing distributors’ efforts to support customers throughout the pandemic. “Ensuring the continuing supply of food to foodservice customers is a critical government responsibility, and state vaccination plans must ensure that foodservice distributors are a priority industry. It is critical that the men and women who work in the warehouses and drive the trucks to deliver these products can safely continue to fulfill their vital mission.”
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) renewed an earlier call to prioritize aviation industry workers this week as well, noting that they should be considered for the vaccine once healthcare workers and vulnerable groups have been protected.
“We are not asking for aviation workers to be on top of the list, but we need governments to ensure that transportation workers are considered as essential when vaccine roll-out plans are developed,” Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s director general and CEO, said in a statement Wednesday. “The transportation of the Covid-19 vaccines has already begun, and as calculations show, it will require the equivalent of 8,000 Boeing 747 freighter aircraft for global distribution. It is therefore essential that we have the qualified workforce in place to ensure a functioning logistics chain.”
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has said that workers in “essential and critical industries” should be among those prioritized for vaccination if supply is limited.
Earlier this month, the American Trucking Associations (ATA) also weighed in on the issue.
“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,” Bill Sullivan, ATA’s executive vice president for advocacy, wrote in a letter to government and health officials. “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.”