Restaurant employees and other foodservice industry workers have been prioritized as “essential workers” by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), qualifying them to be among the early recipients of COVID-19 vaccinations.
Under the CDC’s “Phased Allocation of COVID-19 Vaccines plan,” foodservice workers would be included in round 1C of the vaccination distribution rollout, along with workers in the transportation, construction, finance, IT and communications, energy, legal, public safety and media industries.
The CDC has not released a vaccine deployment timeline, so it’s unclear when restaurant employees will be able to get vaccinated. They would be behind healthcare workers in the line for the second round of inoculations. Some 21 million Americans aged 75 and older and 30 million frontline essential workers would also get prioritized above restaurant employees.
The National Restaurant Association had been pushing to get restaurant employees included in early-round vaccinations, according to Restaurant Business Online. “We’ve certainly asked for that, with a lot of the work we’ve done in Washington and certainly within the states,” Tom Bene, the Association’s CEO, said at a recent virtual event called the Restaurant Recovery Summit. “We continue to suggest that, as an important industry, those workers should be part of the food-supply-chain workforce that gets vaccinated early. Whether that happens in every state or every situation, we don’t know yet.”
Bene also told Restaurant Business that restaurants and their employees should not have to pay for the vaccinations. “Our sense is that the government should pay for all that,” he said.