The US Department of Transport is preparing to transport a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as it gets approved by the FDA.
The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices held an emergency webcast on Dec. 1, 2020. During this virtual meeting that was open to the public, there was a vote on an interim recommendation regarding which groups will be the first to receive the COVID-19 vaccine after it gets approved by the FDA.
With a vote of 13 for and one against, it was agreed on the following three groups for a vaccine deployment:
- Phase 1a,
- Phase 1b,
- Phase 1c.
In the first phase, the COVID-19 vaccine will be deployed for health care personnel and residents of long-term care facilities.
During the second phase, or Phase 1b, essential workers, including truck drivers, will receive the vaccine.
In the last phase, the COVID-19 vaccine will be administered to adults with high-risk medical conditions and adults over the age of 65.
The ACIP Recommendations Are Not Binding
Expert opinion says that while the recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices are not binding, they have determined the scope and funding of US vaccination programs in the past. However, ACIP chairman Jose Romero advised that the final decision will be up to state authorities.
The deadline is Dec. 4 for state authorities to place initial orders for the Pfizer vaccine and to verify where the vaccine should be delivered.
Helen Talbot, an infections disease specialist at Vanderbilt University, was the only one who voted against the ACIP decision. The reasoning behind this decision, according to Talbot, is her lack of confidence in putting long-term care facility residents in the Phase 1a of the vaccination. She added that the vaccine has not been tested in this particular population group.
“We enter this realm of, ‘We hope it works and we hope it’s safe,’ and that concerns me on many levels,” Talbot said during the webcast.
How Phase 1B Will Impact Trucking
The American Trucking Associations (ATA) submitted letters to the White House, the ACIP, President-elect Joe Biden, and the National Governors Association to remind them about the role the trucking industry has as an essential industry for a nation-wide vaccination effort.
Furthermore, the ATA urged officials that truckers should be included in the priority groups alongside other essential workers.
This effort by the ATA further reinforces the recommendations given by the ACIP.
The US Department of Transport has continued its support of truckers by introducing and expanding the HOS rules exemption throughout 2020. This new turn of events has called for another extension to include the support of the emergency transportation of vaccines and medical supplies and equipment related to the prevention of COVID-19.