NATSO, Industry Urge HHS to Appropriately Prioritize Essential Businesses in Vaccine Distribution Strategy


NATSO, along with industry trade groups representing fuel retailers, urged the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to ensure that federal priorities are followed throughout the vaccine distribution chain and prioritize employees of essential businesses after health care workers when a COVID-19 vaccine becomes available. 

In a letter to Secretary Alex M. Azar II, Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, NATSO said that essential workers of businesses that are part of the critical infrastructure workforce should receive a vaccine as part of Phase 1-B of a jurisdiction’s distribution scheme. Phase 1-B would follow behind only those healthcare personnel who are grouped into Phase 1-A. 

Truckstop workers and commercial truck drivers are included on the list of “essential critical infrastructure workers” by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) in its “Guidance on the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce.”

“Employees in our industry serve on the front lines of the fuel and food distribution systems across the country. This includes consumer-facing retail sales of food and motor fuels as well as distribution of many of these critical products,” the letter states. “We think this is an appropriate classification

for our industry’s employees given their necessity to the day-to-day lives of Americans in all walks of life – including first responders. Without our industry getting motor fuels to market, for example, front-line workers throughout all industries would be unable to get to work – halting the economy and preventing first responders from getting to those in need.”

NATSO was joined in signing the letter by the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS), Energy Marketers of America (EMA) and the Society of Independent Gasoline Marketers of America (SIGMA).

NATSO in September expressed support for the proposed COVID-19 allocation framework issued by the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. That framework was designed to help the federal government ensure that a vaccine is distributed in a fair and impactful manner.  

[NATSO Expresses Support for Proposed COVID-19 Vaccine Framework]

Regulators have not yet approved a COVID-19 vaccine for use, but three major pharmaceutical companies have moved closed to developing a viable COVID-19 vaccine.

Transportation and logistics, including UPS, FedEx and DHL, are developing strategies to ship it safely once it is ready. Methods by which a vaccine will be distributed in different states and localities remain unclear.

NATSO has developed COVID-19 Resources to help truckstops and travel plazas safely operate amid the pandemic and help the professional truck drivers transporting freight during this critical time.

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