Uber is appealing to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control this morning in an effort to have its drivers qualify for early vaccinations. The ride-hailing company is asking the CDC to designate its drivers as non-health essential workers, as reported by Reuters:
The company, in a letter to the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, said its drivers provided critical transportation for essential workers and allowed others to stay home and order food.
The imminent arrival of vaccines has led the CDC and other regulators to consider who will be vaccinated first. Both the ACIP and the CISA have released statements outlining who they believe should be given priority, and discussions are underway because most will not have access to vaccines until mid- to late 2021.
Two groups have been singled out to head the line for the first round of vaccines: health-care workers and those in long-term health facilities. That’s just about a no-brainer because the former are frequently exposed to the virus and the latter are most likely to suffer serious consequences from the infection. But exactly who will be vaccinated after them is undecided.
Uber is not alone in wanting the CDC to categorize its drivers as essential workers — a lot of other industries want the same treatment for their workers. These discussion are a long way from completion. It seems like a good idea to vaccinate those more likely to transmit the virus, and given the nature of their work, Uber drivers come in contact with a lot of people during any given workday. Their livelihood depends on it. This applies to all app-based drivers, whether they are transporting passengers or delivering food.
We asked drivers how the pandemic had affected them earlier in the year, back when we hoped lockdowns would last weeks rather than months. As we did then, we sympathize now with anyone who’s forced to place their financial well-being above their personal health. Broadly speaking, those two are one and the same.
If the CDC declines to prioritize Uber drivers, the company could always ask Ford to share whatever vaccine it may have in the way-back corners of its freezers. That might be a long-shot, though, so don’t be surprised if you see Uber drivers outfitting their cars with EKG graphics and star of life decals in an attempt to convince the CDC to help them. Please, everyone, stay safe and care for your health.