Critical Energy Workers Need COVID-19 Vaccine Sooner, FERC Tells CDC
The FERC requested that “a subset of the energy workforce … specifically, highly trained electrical field workers, power plant operators, transmission and distribution grid operators, and personnel who procure the energy needed to balance the grid” be moved up on the vaccine list.
The US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has sent a letter to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) requesting that specific members of the energy workforce receive the COVID-19 vaccine sooner, moving from Phase 1c to 1b.
In the letter, signed by all FERC commissioners, the agency says, “Over the course of the last year, workers at electric utilities across the country have engaged in heroic efforts to keep the lights on in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. Their work ensures the functioning of our nation’s critical infrastructure—everything from our telecommunications systems to the hospitals that care for our most vulnerable.”
The vaccine allocation guidance from the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices places the energy workforce in Phase 1c. FERC requests that “a subset of the energy workforce … specifically, highly trained electrical field workers, power plant operators, transmission and distribution grid operators, and personnel who procure the energy needed to balance the grid on a moment-to-moment basis” be included in Phase 1b.
In the letter, FERC asserts that, “Those workers’ duties can only be performed on-site, usually in close quarters, where full adherence to social distancing guidelines is impossible. And while these utility employees can be counted as among the most critical among the American workforce, they represent a relatively small population. We understand that the number is likely to be on the order of thousands of workers in each state. As such, we urge you to consider prioritizing these workers as the CDC continues revising its vaccine guidance.”