DOT prepares for quick transport of COVID-19 vaccine

December 1, 2020

Land Line Staff

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The U.S. Department of Transportation said it has taken the necessary regulatory measures to get the COVID-19 vaccine to the public as quickly as possible.

“The Department has laid the groundwork for the safe transportation of the COVID-19 vaccine and is proud to support this historic endeavor,” DOT Secretary Elaine Chao said in a news release.

Chao said that over the past several weeks DOT agencies and other officials have been coordinating with the private-sector companies that will carry the vaccines from the manufacturing facilities to the distribution centers and inoculation points.

The DOT has established safety requirements for all potential hazards involved in shipping the vaccine, including protocols for dry ice and lithium batteries.

To help with the effort, the FMCSA’s COVID-19 emergency declaration waiving hours-of-service regulations for loads related to the emergency has been extended to include emergency transportation of vaccines and medical supplies and equipment related to the prevention of COVID-19.

Last week, Land Line reported that OOIDA has been working behind the scenes to make sure truck drivers are near the top of the list for those wanting the vaccine.

Doug Morris, OOIDA’s director of safety and security operations, told Land Line Now that the Association has been in talks with the Centers for Disease Control and the Department of Homeland Security about the vaccine rollout. The plan will likely use a four-phase rollout recommended by the National Academy of Medicine.

The first phase of the plan will first get the vaccines to high risk health workers and first responders along with higher risk people with underlying conditions. Morris said truckers will likely be included in Phase 2 – a group that includes school teachers and critical workers who are in industries essential to the functioning of society and at substantially high risk of exposure.

The vaccines have still not been approved, so no specific dates for rollouts have been set. However, Morris said it’s possible that vaccines could be available by the end of the year, and truck drivers could have the ability to receive a vaccine by late January or early February. LL

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