The National Association of Truck Stop Owners hopes to use their businesses as COVID vaccinations sites for truck drivers and truck stop employees.
NATSO, 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 all teamed up to sign a letter to CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, urging the organization to leverage their properties as vaccination sites for the industry’s 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,” read the letter.
“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.”
The letter also highlights the importance of allowing drivers to receive a vaccine in a state in which they are not a resident, allowing them to get vaccinated while OTR and away from home. Additionally, the letter urges that drivers must be allowed to receive their second vaccine at the different location than where they received their first one due to the complicated nature of getting a truck driver to a specific place at a specific time without robbing them of money-making loads.
While the efforts seem to be in good faith, the question remains: Do truck drivers even want a COVID 19 vaccine? According to a recent poll conducted by CDLLife, the answer is a resounding no.
Still, industry experts are doing their best to advocate for the safety of truck drivers, one of the country’s most essential lines of work.
“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.”