Trucking industry calls for COVID-19 vaccine priority for drivers

The industry wants more clarity on the vaccination rollout.
The industry wants more clarity on the vaccination rollout. Photo credit: Getty

The trucking industry is pushing for its workers to be given priority to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Nick Leggett, chief executive of the Road Transport Forum, says truck drivers should be among the first in line to get the jab given their importance in keeping the supply chain running.

"We see increasing urgency in getting truck drivers vaccinated when you note what is happening in Auckland, our largest city and home to our major port," Leggett said on Thursday.

"The yo-yoing lockdowns have significant impacts on moving freight and COVID outbreaks in Auckland put a large workforce at risk.

"Ports of Auckland and other port workers are being vaccinated and it is only a matter of time before high-risk businesses start demanding any workers to their sites also be vaccinated."

He said the Road Transport Forum had written to COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins requesting truck drivers be considered a priority for the vaccine.

So far more than half of the estimated 12,000 border workforce has been given their first vaccination dose. 

Hipkins told media on Wednesday families and household contacts of border workers would also be vaccinated starting next week, with frontline health workers and emergency staff next in line after that.

Leggett said transport operators were keen to mitigate risk and exposure of their employees as soon as possible "and some clarity on vaccination prioritisation would be useful so they can plan".