Bus drivers, tricycle riders, transportation network vehicle service personnel from Grab and Angkas—these people come into contact with dozens, in some cases hundreds, of passengers a day. Their work has been vital to keeping the economy afloat during the pandemic, and many consider them to be just as important to the fight against COVID-19 as doctors and nurses.
That said, should PUV drivers and operators be prioritized alongside medical personnel once governments begin rolling out a vaccine? Uber thinks so.
According to a recent report by Reuters, the ride-hailing giant is asking the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to consider Uber ride-hailing and delivery personnel as essential workers so they can benefit from early COVID-19 vaccination.
In a letter to the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, the company claimed that its personnel provide transportation for essential workers as well as deliver food to people, allowing them to stay safe inside their homes.
“Early access to a vaccine would help drivers and delivery people continue to play their essential role while also reducing the risk that they may inadvertently contract, or possibly transmit the virus,” it reads. The letter was signed by Danielle Burr, Uber’s head of federal affairs.
Other sectors share the transport provider’s mindset. According to the report, companies in food production and consumer goods are requesting the same thing as well. The CDC Advisory Committee has already announced medical personnel and residents of homes for the elderly will be first in line once a vaccine comes out. The agency is still in the process of drafting the rest of its recommendations for vaccine prioritization.
The US Department of Homeland security already considers “commercial transportation services including taxis, delivery services, vehicle rental services, bicycle maintenance, and car-sharing services, and transportation network providers,” as “essential critical infrastructure workers.”
Early vaccination for transportation personnel makes sense, if you ask us. It isn’t just a matter of keeping PUV drivers and operators safe. Again, these personnel come into contact with up to hundreds of passengers per day—eliminating them as potential carriers of COVID-19 would go a long way in stopping its spread. What do you think?