Bank tellers may get to skip the line to receive the covid-19 vaccine once it becomes available, jumping ahead of those who are at an increased risk for severe symptoms from the virus such as people 65 and older or who have preexisting conditions.
Per a MarketWatch report this week, the American Bankers Association, an industry trade group based in Washington, D.C., has asked federal health authorities to designate consumer-facing bank employees as “essential workers,” which would give them vaccine prioritization once the Federal Food and Drug Administration grants emergency-use authorization (which could possibly happen later this month but keep your fingers crossed).
The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, an advisory panel of health experts with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, recommended this week that health care professionals and staff and residents in long-term facilities, such as nursing homes, should be the highest-priority group to receive the vaccine, known as Phase 1a. After them would come Phase 1b: essential workers, a loosely defined category made up of roughly 87 million people in the foodservice, manufacturing, and transportation industries, among others.
The ABA argues that financial-industry workers should be added to that list and cited pandemic guidelines from the Department of Homeland Security that designate banks and financial institutions as essential critical infrastructure.
“From the start of the pandemic ABA members have prioritized the health and safety of their customers and employees,” the ABA said per Marketwatch. “In our conversations with public health agencies, ABA has advocated that among bank employees already deemed ‘essential’ by the government, those that come in contact with the public every day, such as tellers, should be considered for the CDC’s Phase 1b along with essential workers in other industries. The CDC has already designated health-care workers and residents of long-term-care facilities for Phase 1a.”
This would mean bank tellers would receive inoculations before adults with high-risk medical conditions and those 65 and older. Called Phase 1c, this group is estimated at more than 150 million people (though there’s obviously some overlap with the other phases) that have a significantly higher risk of developing complications and severe symptoms from the virus.
Of course, even if the CDC agrees to lump bank workers with the rest of those in Phase 1b, it’s still up to state and local governments to decide who gets priority when distributing the vaccine. The CDC did not immediately respond to Gizmodo’s request for comment about this decision.
The FDA is set to holding meetings this month to decide whether vaccines from drugmakers Moderna and Pfzir, which UK officials approved earlier this week, should receive emergency use authorization and cleared for widespread distribution. None too soon, either. To date, the U.S. has seen nearly 15 million covid-19 cases and 280,000 deaths, the most in the world, and case tallies have soared past previous records amid the holiday season. In a recent national forecast, the CDC said it predicts as many as 19,500 new deaths will be reported during the week of Christmas, and we could see another 300,000 covid-19 cases added in December.