Restaurant workers should be prioritized to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in the next phase of inoculations, or right after the elderly and such essential workers as police officers and teachers have gotten their first round of shots, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended Sunday.
The priority list was released by the federal agency as guidance for state and local governments in planning their inoculation strategies. The federal recommendations do not set dates for when various demographic or industry groups can expect to get inoculated. Rather, the directive lists the order in which the recipients should be asked to roll up their sleeves.
Foodservice workers are part of stage 1c of the ambitious plan, which is just entering phase 1b—the inoculation of individuals aged 75 or older and “Frontline Essential Workers,” or those with a critical social function such as working for delivering mail, driving public buses or carting food from farm to store. Grocery-store workers are part of the latter phase.
Also included in phase 1c are persons aged 65 to 74; construction workers; and employees of communications companies.
The CDC issued the guidance a few days after the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) essentially cleared the way for restaurants and other businesses to require that their employees be inoculated against COVID-19 as a condition of employment. The labor agency noted that the inoculations do not require any personal revelations from workers and hence do not violate the privacy provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Although the CDC did not provide a target schedule for inoculations, its prioritization list showed how far the inoculation program needs to go before restaurant workers are lining up for their shots. The agency estimates that about 21 million Americans are aged 75 or older, and all are in line ahead of waiters, cooks and takeout-meal runners. Ditto for 30 million essential frontline workers.
About 128,000 Americans—healthcare workers and residents of long-term healthcare facilities—were inoculated last week, and about 2.9 million doses have been allocated to all 50 states by the federal government.