ALEXANDRIA, Va. — NATSO has joined forces with a coalition representing trucking fleets and truck drivers in need through a letter urging the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to designate truckstops and travel plazas as mobile vaccination sites. This would leverage existing truck stop locations for the distribution of vaccines to professional drivers and truck stop employees.
The nature of trucking, truckstop and travel plaza industries provides an opportunity to have an immediate and meaningful impact on the distribution of vaccines to essential truckstop employees and truck drivers, the groups wrote in the letter to CDC Director Rochelle Walensky.
In addition to NATSO, signatories of the letter include 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 the significant challenges that truck drivers currently face in receiving an expedient vaccine, according to NATSO, which noted that many states currently require proof of residency to receive a vaccine.
NATSO supports truck drivers being able to receive a vaccine in a state other than their home state due to the length of time they spend on the road and away from home. They should also be able to receive their second vaccination shot at a different location from the first, as it is improbable they would have the ability to return to the initial 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 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," added 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 truckstops."
The full letter is available here.
Founded in 1960, NATSO represents the industry on legislative and regulatory matters; serves as the official source of information on the diverse travel plaza and truck stop industry; provides education to its members; conducts an annual convention and trade show; and supports efforts to generally improve the business climate in which its members operate.