For several months, important workers have put their own health on the line to take care of others and keep the country going. But as states face the difficult decision by whom to give limited doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, the question becomes, who is more essential?
The term “significant worker” was first used by states and localities to make exceptions to becoming home orders in the early stages of the pandemic. But each state, local, tribal and territorial government has used different definitions.
In March, Christopher Krebs, Director of the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, issued guidance who identified several categories of important workers.
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The list covered workers in health care, law enforcement, first responders, food and agriculture, energy, water and wastewater, transport and logistics, public works and infrastructure support services, communications and information technology, society and government, manufacturing, hazardous materials, economic services, chemicals, defense , shelter and hygiene.
One thing is for sure. There are not enough vaccinations for all important workers, several sources tell Reuters. And there is a lot of competition. A report from The Los Angeles Times says Some wealthy Californians offer doctors tens of thousands of dollars and have their personal assistants call doctors every day in an attempt to get hold of the vaccine.
At present, the power to decide who gets the vaccine is in the hands of those who distribute it, namely health departments and pharmacies. Asked Reuters pharmacy operators CVS, Walgreens and Kroger Co, all of which referred to state and local guidelines.
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“If the jurisdiction requests Walgreens support, Walgreens will distribute a voucher or authorization form that the individual can use to schedule a vaccination appointment,” a Walgreens spokeswoman said in a statement to Reuters.
“In some cases, the state will identify and verify the individuals before they are referred to us for vaccination,” a Kroger spokesman told Reuters.
This raises several questions about how important workers will have to prove their identities on top of those who are still left. But two organizations – the Consumer Brands Association and the Food Industry Association – told Reuters they are doing their best to navigate the guidelines.
“We understand that states may have different designation standards, but (we are working) to give our members a resource to reduce confusion,” a spokesman for the Food Industry Association said in a statement to Reuters.
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