ALEXANDRIA, Va. — A group of organizations representing the trucking industry have asked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to use truck stops and travel plazas across the U.S. as COVID-19 vaccination sites. In addition to NATSO, which represents truck stops and travel plazas, the group includes the American Trucking Associations (ATA), the Truckload Carriers Association (TCA), the National Private Truck Council, the National Association of Small Trucking Companies, St. Christopher Truckers Relief Fund and the Tank Truck Carriers
In a Feb. 25 letter addressed to CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, the group offered its assistance in meeting President Joe Biden’s goal of vaccinating 100 million people in 100 days.
“Truck stops and travel plazas are designed to cater to the unique needs of truck drivers, who spend hundreds of days each year away from home,” said Lisa Mullings, president and CEO of NATSO. “Commercial drivers who are unable to access medical services in their home state or while driving a tractor-trailer already are accustomed to accessing these services at truck stops and travel centers. Designating our network as mobile vaccination sites will ensure efficient vaccinations for the essential truck drivers who deliver America’s needs as well as the employees who serve them.”
Using truck stops and travel plazas as mobile vaccination sites would alleviate significant challenges faced by truck drivers in receiving the vaccine. Many states, for example, currently require proof of residency to receive a vaccine. Truck drivers, however, are often on the road for weeks or even months at a time, away from their home state.
Under this plan, truck drivers would be allowed to receive a vaccine in any state, and they would be allowed to receive their second vaccination at a different location because of the difficulty in arranging their schedules to return to the primary vaccination site on a specific date or time.
“TCA continues to be awed by the dedication of the hardworking men and women in our industry who put their own health and well-being on the line to ensure the vaccine makes it safely to its final destination, all while wondering when they will be able to receive their own shots,” said John Lyboldt, president of TCA. “We stand ready to help in any way possible to alleviate this concern, and urge the CDC to prioritize the trucking industry as the vaccination effort expands.”
Dan Horvath, vice president of safety policy for ATA, said it’s important to make sure members of the trucking industry have access to the COVID-19 vaccine while on the road.
“We cannot expect drivers — some of whom are actively transporting the vaccine — to return to their home domicile in order to receive the vaccine. 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,” he said.
Donna Kennedy, executive director of the St. Christopher Truckers Relief Fund, pointed to the vital role of truckers.
“Throughout the last year truck drivers have continued risking their lives to bring us food, supplies, medical equipment, PPE, and now, vaccines,” she said. “It only seems right that our Highway Heroes, these essential workers, be prioritized with immunization against the virus. The St. Christopher Fund feels that it is vital for truck drivers to receive COVID-19 vaccines as soon as possible, and that they have easy access to the vaccines. To help with this, we are working with pharmacies and NATSO to make a nationwide plan to have vaccine clinics at truck stops.”
The Trucker News Staff produces engaging content for not only TheTrucker.com, but also The Trucker Newspaper, which has been serving the trucking industry for more than 30 years. With a focus on drivers, the Trucker News Staff aims to provide relevant, objective content pertaining to the trucking segment of the transportation industry. The Trucker News Staff is based in Little Rock, Arkansas.