The National Retail Federation (NRF) is calling on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to include the nation’s 32 million retail workers in its second round of vaccinations—known as the 1b phase—which has already begun in some states and is scheduled to begin in many others next week.
“Retail is a fundamental part of the daily lives of American consumers, providing a variety of goods for sale through a multitude of channels, via stores; online; curbside pickup; buy online, pickup in store; and delivery to almost any location,” wrote NRF CEO Matthew Shay in a letter to Dr. José R. Romero, chair of the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). “We respectfully request that ACIP consider the importance, and interconnected nature, of the retail industry as it weighs the proper distribution of limited supplies of vaccines approved for use to prevent an infection of COVID-19.”
Retail workers, he argued, have faced lost paychecks and stop-and-start employment like few others during the pandemic. Once vaccinated, he added, “retailers can also assist the CDC and state public health professionals in safely distributing the vaccine to the greater population at the appropriate time. Through our efficient supply chains and vast network of physical store locations, retailers can facilitate community vaccination efforts.”
Shay further asserted that having retailers host vaccination centers keeps people from gathering in large crowds at any one location, and noted that “these efforts can also facilitate the vaccination of greater numbers of the retail workforce” and that “acceptance of vaccinations by the diverse retail workforce can assist in positive behavioral modeling for the entire society.”
Individual states have been left to create their own protocols, procedures, and hierarchies—though most are following the demographic order set forth by the CDC, which begins with vaccinating frontline health care workers and elderly citizens in nursing facilities.
The 1b phase, for many states, includes people in homeless shelters and migrant labor camps, and those with high risk medical conditions and/or disabilities. The phase will, at minimum, provide access to the vaccine for the most at-risk U.S. retail workers.
Shay wrote, “Given the size of the U.S. retail workforce and importance in supporting individuals, households, and families across the country, we believe the ACIP should place a significant emphasis on these workers as soon as [is] practical.”
(Photo: Emili Vesilind)
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