Recently, the Compressed Gas Association (CGA) reached out to the Governors of all 50 states asking that medical, food, and industrial gas workers be included in the Frontline Essential Workers (Phase 1b) of the COVID-19 vaccine distribution. See below for an example of a letter that they sent.
As the response to the COVID-19 pandemic continues through the equitable distribution of vaccines, we urge that state public health officials include the essential medical, food, and industrial gas workforce in the Frontline Essential Workers (Phase 1b) of the vaccine distribution. This includes medical, food, and industrial gas transportation workers, equipment manufacturers, cylinder filling and handling employees, technicians and customer engineers involved in medical and food gas installations, and air separation unit (ASU) plant employees. These essential medical, food, and industrial gas workers are crucial in securing the supply chain of critical gases, including oxygen which is a frontline treatment for patients experiencing the symptoms of COVID-19.
The Compressed Gas Association represents the nation’s manufacturers of medical, food, and industrial gases. Compressed gases are the invisible ingredients in millions of products used in everyday life, everything from medical applications and vaccine development to food processing and beverage ingredients. Together, our members supply products to industries that account for nearly 30% of the U.S. gross domestic product.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, our members’ products have been playing a critical role. Medical oxygen is the primary treatment for people infected with COVID-19. Dry ice – the solid version of carbon dioxide – is used for the transportation and storage of vaccines that require an ultra-cold environment. Carbon dioxide and liquid nitrogen are used extensively in many food and beverage processing and preservation applications, ensuring the nation has adequate food supply. Our members have been working diligently to ensure these essential products are available and reach the millions of end users who rely on them.
As the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine begins across the nation, we are one step closer to ending the pandemic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has finalized its recommendations to states on vaccine distribution based on the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) consensus recommendations. Phase 1b of the CDC’s recommendation includes Frontline Essential Workers.
As governors and state public health agencies begin to finalize COVID-19 vaccine distribution plans, we urge you to include frontline essential medical, food, and industrial gas workers in Phase 1b of the vaccination rollout. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has deemed the following workers as essential in its December 16 updated designations:
- Healthcare and Public Health: “Workers at manufacturers…materials and parts suppliers, technicians, logistics and warehouse operators, printers, packagers, distributors of medical products and equipment…medical gases.”
- Food and Agriculture: “Workers and firms supporting the distribution of all human and animal food and beverage and ingredients used in these products.”
- Chemical: “Workers supporting the chemical and industrial gas supply chains, including workers at chemical manufacturing plants…distribution facilities, and workers who transport basic raw chemical materials to the producers of industrial and consumer goods, including hand sanitizers, food and food additives [and] pharmaceuticals.”
The CISA designation includes medical, food, and industrial gas transportation workers, equipment manufacturers, cylinder filling and handling employees, technicians and customer engineers involved in medical and food gas installations, and air separation unit (ASU) plant employees. This portion of our workforce is crucial to ensuring that medical oxygen and other medical gases are reaching the hospitals, long-term care facilities and other health care facilities – those places truly on the frontline of the health crisis. And that other critically needed food gases are available to sustain the nation’s food supply. By prioritizing the vaccination of this portion of our workforce – estimated at approximately 25,000 individuals nationwide – you will ensure an uninterrupted supply of these important products to the places in our communities that need them most.
We recognize these decisions are difficult, and we thank you for the consideration of our request. We appreciate your leadership and efforts to protect the public as we continue to face this unprecedented health crisis.
President and CEO, Compressed Gas Association