The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has clarified that construction workers will likely receive the COVID-19 vaccine in the third phase of its rollout program.
According to the guidelines, Phase 1 of the vaccine rollout will take place in three sub-phases. The third sub-phase, Phase 1c, will distribute the vaccine to non-health care essential workers like those in the construction sector. This phase could begin as soon as the first or second quarter of 2021.
Initially, the construction sector only included those working in housing and shelter-related projects. ENR reports that Phase 1c should cover all types of construction workers regardless of project or trade.
"We checked with them and CDC staff indicated the words ‘shelter’ and ‘housing’ were given only as examples and that the prior classification of all construction workers as essential was intended," Brian Turmail, a spokesman for Associated General Contractors, told ENR.
The Trump administration has said the initial round of vaccinations would be available to all Americans free of charge, but has left most of the distribution logistic planning to the states.
When it comes to vaccinating employees, contractors are able to mandate vaccines, but there are some conditions. Cotney Construction Law CEO Trent Cotney said in the past, both the EEOC and OSHA have said it’s fine to mandate vaccinations like those for the flu, but previous health conditions or religious reasons can play a factor.
“One of the things I would caution employers before they mandate vaccines for their workers is they need to think about a couple of different things,” Cotney said. “You’ve got to think about retention and recruitment. Is this something that you really want to do, or do you want to consider a voluntary vaccine program coupled by social distancing and continued mask wearing until you hit a certain number so that COVID disappears?”
"I feel all of us have a civic responsibility to get the vaccine, not just to protect ourselves, but to protect others as well. For me personally, I will be in line when I am allowed to get it. The last year has shown us we need to be more proactive on prevention."
Phase 1a will go to frontline health care personnel like hospital workers and outpatient clinics. This will also include residents in long-term care facilities. Phase 1b, consisting of roughly 49 million people, will include frontline essential workers like police, firefighters and grocery store workers and persons aged ≥75 years.
Phase 1c will also include people who are 65–74 years old and people aged 16–64 years with medical conditions that increase the risk for severe COVID-19.