- Construction workers should receive the coronavirus vaccine after other frontline essential workers and people age 75 and older, according to recommendations made by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.
- ACIP voted that the roughly 30 million Americans that fall into the frontline essential workers group, including first responders and grocery store employees, should be in Phase 1b, because they are at substantially higher risk of exposure to COVID-19. Another 57 million essential workers, such as those in construction and food service, should be in Phase 1c. If CDC Director Robert Redfield accepts the recommendation, then these groups will likely be able to get the vaccine after healthcare workers and nursing home residents, who are now being vaccinated.
- Despite the recommendation, there could still be variation in the rollout. The panel said these recommendations are nonbinding and intended to guide state and local health officials, and can be adjusted based on local needs.
In a previous meeting Dec. 1 to recommend which groups should receive the vaccine first, ACIP voted to initially prioritize health care workers and residents and staff of long-term care facilities. It said then that the broader group of essential workers would likely come next, before people 65 and older.
But after getting pushback from several sectors about putting the elderly behind younger, able-bodied workers, the committee compromised by including Americans 75 and older, as well as a paired down category of the most exposed frontline essential workers, in the second group, according to the New York Times.
Brian Turmail, vice president of public affairs at the Associated General Contractors of America trade group, said the new recommendations still align with input the group gave to both President Donald Trump, and then-candidate Joe Biden, in the run-up to the presidential election.
“The CDC recommendations are in line with the suggestions we offered to both President Trump and President-elect Biden,” Turmail said in an email to Construction Dive. “We expect states will be consistent in following those guidelines.”
Greg Sizemore, vice president of health, safety and environment at the Associated Builders and Contractors trade group noted that ACIP members are in a challenging position.
“Prioritizing who gets the vaccine and when is not a straightforward or easy process," Sizemore said. "The vital industry sectors on the front lines of defeating this global health crisis, such as medical and health care professionals, could depend on a safe and healthy construction workforce to deliver essential goods and services. Should the essential work require a worker to receive the vaccine, ABC supports that prioritization because safety and service are foundational pillars of ABC and its membership.”
The 30 million frontline essential workers ACIP recommended in Phase 1b include:
- First responders (firefighters, police)
- Education (teachers, support staff, daycare)
- Food and agriculture
- Corrections workers
- U.S. Postal Service workers
- Public transit workers
- Grocery store workers
The 57 million other essential workers, recommended to be vaccinated in Phase 1c, include:
- Transportation and logistics
- Food service
- Shelter and housing (construction)
- IT and communication
- Public Safety (engineers)
- Water and Wastewater
Lillianna Byington at sister publication Food Dive contributed to this report.