The coronavirus has upended world economies and put the role of “essential workers” in sharp relief. These workers, including drivers in the commercial trucking industry, have been called upon to keep economies running, even in the wake of COVID-19 and its health risks. As a risk management strategy, semi truck fleet insurance plays a crucial role. Now, as COVID vaccines have been approved for emergency use, they have the potential to strengthen risk management practices in the transportation sector. Are truckers going to be among the first to receive these potentially lifesaving injections? The answer is far from clear.
The Case for Vaccination Priority in Trucking
Researchers at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland began to argue the case for trucker vaccinations in 2008 when the nation was gripped by fears of the H1N1 virus and its initial spread. Bioethicists at the University believe that although first responders and healthcare providers should be at the top of any vaccine priority list, truckers and employees integral to national supply chains should also receive priority consideration. The concern is that if the trucking industry is felled by widespread infection – be it from a flu virus or COVID-19 – the economy will grind to a halt and put hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of others at risk of significant hardships, including food insecurity, lack of access to personal protective equipment, and widespread shortages of crucial commodities.
Vaccination Tiers in the Commercial Trucking Industry
It is no secret that the transportation sector is the lifeblood of the global economy. Without shipping and commercial trucks, goods could not be transported from manufacturing and production centers to end users. As COVID-19 has spread to populations around the globe and has resulted in thousands of deaths every day in the United States alone, the trucking sector is facing risks that outmatch even the most comprehensive semi truck fleet insurance.
As public health officials and trucking industry organizations recommend prioritizing vaccines for truckers, a tiered system of priority has come into focus. Delivery drivers, or those who handle “last mile” transportation services and are exposed to frequent contact with others , should be at a higher priority level. Long-haul truckers, although still essential, may not come into as frequent contact with infected individuals and can thus be considered a lower priority for receiving vaccines.
Trucking Associations Weigh In
The American Trucking Associations (ATA) and its Canadian counterpart, the Canadian Trucking Alliance, have voiced their concerns about vaccination priority in the trucking sector. In letters sent to national leaders, the National Governors Association, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the ATA asked for truckers to be included in prioritized vaccination groups along with other essential workers. Their main argument for recommending prioritization is this: truckers play a critical role in the transportation and delivery of time- and temperature-sensitive vaccines. If the trucking sector were to be hampered by widespread coronavirus infections, vaccines may not arrive in time to help save others’ lives.
Decisions Rest in States’ Hands
The decision to prioritize certain groups for COVID vaccines ultimately falls to individual states, which operate based on recommendations from the CDC. Each state can determine which groups receive vaccines first; among the targeted groups to be vaccinated are the elderly, those with significant health risks complicated by COVID exposure, and healthcare/emergency response professionals.
The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has already implemented emergency measures to facilitate the rapid delivery and distribution of vaccines. One of these measures was to expand exemptions for truckers involved in mission-critical deliveries of medical supplies and vaccine doses. Just as truckers were essential in getting personal protective equipment like gloves, masks, and ventilators out to affected communities, so too are they expected to perform a similar role in vaccine initiatives. As a risk management step – working hand in hand with semi truck fleet insurance and other industry protections, vaccination priority for America’s truckers makes economic sense, and may ultimately help to save millions of lives.
About Gain Insurance Agency
Gain Insurance Agency protects trucking businesses against liabilities and claims in the industry. We combine products provided by respected insurance providers with our expertise and custom packages to meet customers’ individual needs. Our goal is to give you the coverage that you need at the lowest possible price. To learn more about our products and services, contact us today at (877) 424-3344.