WASHINGTON—The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) voted yesterday to recommend that frontline essential workers—including employees in the convenience store industry—be next in line to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. In their recommendations for the second phase, Phase 1-B of vaccination distribution, the committee prioritized frontline essential workers and adults older than age 75 years. Yesterday’s vote follows the CDC’s recommendation for the first phase, Phase 1-A, that prioritized health-care professionals and long-term care facility residents.
States and local governments will ultimately determine how the vaccine is distributed to each category, but many officials are expected to heed the CDC’s recommendations. For this reason, NACS has been urging the CDC to prioritize the industry’s workforce in their recommendations.
It is critical that frontline workers who are part of the critical infrastructure workforce receive appropriate priority status for inoculation, NACS stressed in a letter Friday to U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar. The National Association of Truckstop Operators, Energy Marketers of America and Society of Independent Gasoline Marketers of America joined NACS in advocating for vaccination for essential workers. It was the second letter sent by the industry trade groups to Secretary Azar regarding priority access to a COVID-19 vaccine.
“Our industry’s workers interact with a broad array of other essential workers every day,” the letter notes, putting themselves at risk since the beginning of the pandemic. “We need a critical number of essential workers across many sectors to ensure that we can all get through this crisis together,” NACS said.
“The industry serves about 160 million customers per day—nearly half the United States’ population. By necessity, workers in our industry directly interact with customers inside and outside their stores every day. Those customers include health-care workers of all stripes, first responders such as police and firefighters, and truckers, without whom food and vaccines could not get to the people who need them. Just like our industry’s workers depend upon all of these other essential workers to protect their well-being, every frontline worker needs our industry ensuring there is fuel and other goods to make sure they can get to and do their jobs.”
The ACIP also finalized its recommendations for the third phase, Phase 1-C, yesterday, which will include adults over 65 years old, people between 16-64 years old with underlying health conditions, and all other essential workers.
The FDA granted emergency use authorization (EUA) for the Pfizer/BioNTech Manufacturing GmbH vaccine for COVID-19 prevention, and the first vaccinations in the U.S. occurred last week. On Friday, the agency authorized the Moderna vaccine for emergency use for people 18 years and older, and immunizations are expected to begin today, the Wall Street Journal reports. The U.S. government plans to distribute 7.9 million doses of vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer this week.
NACS has compiled resources to help the convenience retail community navigate the COVID-19 crisis. For news updates and guidance, visit our coronavirus resources page.