Construction Workers Near Front Of The Line To Get COVID-19 Vaccination
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices has issued guidelines for who should receive coronavirus vaccinations and in what order.
The guidelines, which are not binding for states and localities as they roll out their vaccination programs, suggest that construction workers, who are classified as essential workers, receive their shots in the vaccination program's third phase, which would be earlier than most people.
Health care workers, along with the elderly in long-term care facilities, should be first in line to be inoculated, according to the guidelines, followed by "front line essential workers," who number about 30 million. That class includes police and firefighters, teachers, food industry workers, prison guards, postal workers, grocery store employees and public transit workers.
Construction workers are considered "other essential workers," a group that numbers about 57 million. Besides construction workers, that class also includes workers in transportation and logistics, food service, finance, IT, energy, media, law and engineering.
The CDC puts all construction workers, regardless of the kind of project they are working on, in the category of other essential workers. Though early in the pandemic some states and localities shut down construction sites, most construction projects have continued since then. Even so, the construction industry has suffered, beginning with the contraction of the economy in mid-2020.
Construction employment in November was below pre-coronavirus pandemic levels in 35 states and the District of Columbia, according to the Associated General Contractors of America. That was the case even though 31 states and D.C. added construction jobs in October.
The CDC guidelines don't detail an exact timetable for when people in each group will be vaccinated, though it does give approximations.
The first two phases would take about 10 weeks from mid-December. The recommended phases come with some overlap, as the third phase (potentially including construction workers) begins about seven or eight weeks from mid-December. The third phase would be finished, if all goes smoothly, about five months from mid-December.
Construction job sites can contribute to local COVID-19 outbreaks because there is no way to avoid all close contact on the sites, Engineering News-Record reports. Some projects, including Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas and SoFi stadium in Los Angeles, have experienced sizable numbers of workers testing positive.
It is possible that COVID-19 vaccinations will be mandatory at job sites going forward. Though the question of mandatory vaccinations for workers is a new one, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has suggested that it would be permissible.