NWRA urges governors to include waste and recycling workers as part of states’ COVID-19 vaccine distribution plans

NWRA urges governors to include waste and recycling workers as part of states’ COVID-19 vaccine distribution plans

Organization calls for states to follow guidance from the federal Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices that prioritizes waste workers.

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December 2, 2020

The National Waste & Recycling Association (NWRA) announced Dec. 2 that it has sent letters to the nation’s governors urging them to follow guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) on including waste and recycling industry personnel as a part of their states’ vaccine distribution plans, including specialty medical waste workers who provide collection and management services within healthcare settings.

“The waste and recycling industry provides a critical service that is essential to preventing the spread of disease and illness in society. The delivery of these services impacts all healthcare, residential, commercial and industrial properties on a daily basis, necessitating them to receive prioritization,” NWRA President and CEO Darrell Smith says. “We also have member companies that provide services for the healthcare sector, picking up and managing medical waste and sharps waste. They go into hospitals, emergency rooms, long-term care facilities and doctors’ offices as well as pharmaceutical and research facilities. We believe these specialty waste workers providing services within these healthcare settings should receive the vaccine immediately following its distribution to primary healthcare workers.”

NWRA has consistently advocated for the waste and recycling industry to receive the COVID-19 vaccine after healthcare workers. At the request of NWRA, the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS's) Cybersecurity Infrastructure Security Administration classified waste collection workers as essential under five different “Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers” categories.

NWRA previously sent a letter to the CDC urging the agency to accept the recommendation of the ACIP that essential workers, as identified by DHS, should receive a COVID-19 vaccine after healthcare workers.

Waste and recycling workers were also placed on the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine’s COVID-19 vaccine priority list in response to a request from NWRA.