While the federal Centers For Disease Control considers all construction workers to be essential—one of the first tiers of workers who will get the vaccine—they will have to wait in line like everyone else as a rollout of vaccinations on worksites or other worker locations is not under consideration.
During a Jan. 11 CDC briefing, “COVID-19 Vaccine and the Role of the Private Sector,” sponsored by New York University's International Center for Enterprise Preparedness (INTERCEP), Dr. David Fitter, co-lead for the agency's COVID-19 Response Vaccine Task Force, said the potential may exist for corporations to assist in distributing the vaccine at their facilities or jobsites, but he said the idea is not being considered at this point by public health authorities, who are focusing primarily on health care institutions and pharmacies.
The CDC is “continuing to look at mechanisms for distribution,” but the idea of going to a worksite “was not most prominent,” Fitter says. “It’s moving at a good clip already and it is a safe and effective clip.”
Just how fast the vaccine is distributed depends on “how well we all work together,” Fitter said.
A committee of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued guidelines on Dec. 20 that suggest construction workers receive coronavirus vaccine shots in the program rollout's third phase, after they are provided in earlier stages to the elderly and to healthcare and other "frontline" essential workers. States, which are responsible for administering the vaccines, are generally following those guidelines.
The third phase could start from February to late spring 2021 if the vaccination program goes smoothly.
William G. Raisch, INTERCEP executive director, noted the vaccine rollout “will require us to adapt or reimagine our properties in this important stage of delivering vaccines. There is a challenge of evolving and readapting our environment.”
According to Fitter, some large groups have occupational medical clinics where the vaccine will be administered. Otherwise, the strategy is to make sure there is clear and accurate information being put out about the vaccine, including through health care workers and on social media, he said.
“We have tool kits for employers and workers that will come out soon,” Fitter said. “We will continue to update everyone soon. The end goal is every person in the United States has access to the COVID vaccine."