Since the pandemic began, more than 100 active postal workers have died from COVID-19. Tens of thousands have been infected. These alarming numbers have still not made U.S. states want to prioritize U.S Postal workers for the coronavirus vaccine.
The American Postal Workers Union has been trying to get the U.S government to recognize that its members are essential workers. However, despite its dedicated efforts, half a million Americans employed in the U.S Postal Service have not been prioritized for vaccination. This news comes four months after medical workers, nursing home residents and other frontline workers have been immunized.
In January of this year, the labor group made a statement that underlined how postal workers were at the forefront of the pandemic, reporting to work every day and putting their health at risk. “Many essential workers are still waiting for their vaccines even as they report to work every day, including postal workers, who have continued to interact with the public and connect the people of the country during the pandemic.” the statement said.
On December 20, 2020, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) determined that the next phase of vaccination rollout should include frontline workers and people over 75. This proposal included about 30 million essential workers like firefighters, police officers, teachers, school staff, public transit, grocery, and prison workers. Workers in the food, agriculture, manufacturing, and U.S. Postal Service were also included as eligible for immunization.
However, states have pushed postal workers to the back of the line for a vaccination. A recent study by the New York Times revealed that mail workers are only able to access immunization in 22 states. Postal workers in Arizona’s Maricopa County and Colorado have started making the shots available to postal workers. However, in Connecticut, plans to vaccinate essential workers were rejected in favor of an age-based bar where people over 45 were prioritized for the vaccine.
With states calling the shots, the USPS is redoubling efforts to develop a nationwide vaccine distribution plan for US Postal Workers. Meanwhile, it is encouraging anyone who works for the USPS to grab the first immunization opportunity made available to them.