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APPA supports prioritization of COVID-19 vaccine for mission essential workers

Organizations representing state and local governments should ask their members to designate energy industry mission-essential workers as high priority for voluntary access to initial inoculation against COVID-19, a group of energy industry trade associations including the American Public Power Association and unions said in a Dec. 3 letter.

The letter was sent to the Council of State Governments, International City/Council Management Association, National Association of Counties, National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC), National Council of State Legislatures, National Governors Association, National League of Cities, and the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

“With so many Americans now working and learning from home, the safe and reliable energy our members and federal electric utilities produce and deliver is more important than ever,“ the letter said.

“Earlier this year, we asked your members to prioritize access to testing and personal protective equipment (PPE) for a small subset of highly skilled, mission-essential energy workers. We appreciate the support you provided,” APPA and the other energy groups and unions said.

With COVID-19 vaccines now nearing final approval and release, “we are asking that your members designate our mission-essential workers as high priority for voluntary access to initial inoculation. These employees are highly specialized and cannot work from home or in isolation from others on the job site. The work they perform is critical to public health and safety, as well as our economic and national security.”

The energy industry trade associations and unions said that prioritizing vaccination access for mission-essential workers is consistent with guidance contained in the October 2, 2020, “Framework for Equitable Allocation of COVID-19 Vaccine” by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The final report recommends that critical infrastructure workers be considered for prioritization based upon their job function and exposure to risks.

“Please encourage your members to reach out to their individual electric and natural gas utilities in their states to discuss vaccine prioritization for mission-essential workers who choose to receive a vaccination—those who operate power generation facilities, staff the control rooms that serve as the nerve centers for transmission and distribution networks, and maintain the system and do emergency repairs as well as maintenance during planned refueling and capital projects.”

Along with APPA, other energy trade groups signing on to the letter were:

  • American Gas Association
  • American Public Gas Association
  • Edison Electric Institute
  • Electric Power Supply Association
  • National Rural Electric Cooperative Association
  • Nuclear Energy Institute

Unions signing on to the letter were United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and North America's Building Trades Unions.