NATSO, representing the nation’s truckstops and travel plazas, along with a coalition representing trucking fleets and truck drivers in need, urged the Centers for Disease Control to designate truckstops and travel plazas as mobile vaccination sites to leverage existing truckstop locations for the distribution of vaccines to professional truck drivers and truckstop employees.
The very nature of the trucking, truckstop and travel plaza industries allows an opportunity to have an immediate and meaningful impact on the distribution of vaccines to essential truckstop employees and truck drivers, the groups said in a letter to CDC Director Rochelle Walensky.
NATSO was joined in signing the letter by the American Trucking Associations, the Truckload Carriers Association, National Private Truck Council, National Association of Small Trucking Companies, St. Christopher Truckers Relief Fund, and the Tank Truck Carriers.
“Truckstops 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 NATSO President and CEO Lisa Mullings. “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 service at truckstops 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.”
Utilizing truckstops and travel plazas as mobile vaccination sites would alleviate significant challenges that truck drivers currently face in receiving an expedient vaccine. Many states, for example, currently require proof of residency to receive a vaccine.
Truck drivers should be allowed to receive a vaccine in a state other than that within which they reside due to their length of time on the road and away from home. Truck drivers also must be allowed to receive their second vaccination at a different location as it is improbable that they would have the ability 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 wellbeing 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 the Truckload Carriers Association. “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.”
“We’re grateful to be working with industry partners to ensure the trucking industry has access to the vaccine while out on the road,” said Dan Horvath, Vice President, Safety Policy, for the American Trucking Associations. “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 truckstops 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.”
“Throughout the last year truck drivers have continued risking their lives to bring us food, supplies, medical equipment, PPE, and now, vaccines,” said Donna Kennedy, Executive Director of the St. Christopher Relief Fund. “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.”
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