Industry associations are campaigning to get HVACR specialists, alongside those working in other skilled trades, to the top of the list of those getting the COVID-19 vaccine. Phase 1A of immunizations has already begun and is going out to healthcare workers, vulnerable seniors, and those in long-term care facilities. Now, states are deciding which essential workers should be included in the next stage of distribution.
HVACR technicians have been considered essential workers since the beginning of the pandemic. Their job requires them to enter homes and businesses on a daily basis and, as a result, frequently interact with homeowners, tenants, and their family members, some of whom are part of vulnerable populations. Although service technicians wear personal protective equipment and strictly abide by CDC guidelines to protect themselves and their customers, there is always a risk of exposure — especially when working in smaller residential units.
Several industry organizations have joined forces to request that these factors be considered for the next steps in the national vaccine plan, and to prioritize these professionals as critical workers in Phase 1B of the COVID-19 vaccine distribution. Vaccine distribution plans will ultimately be up to state and local government officials, but CDC guidance will have a significant impact on decisions made.
In a letter to the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), ten skilled trades organizations asked that the committee consider the importance of HVACR technicians to American health when it consults the CDC regarding Phase 1B of vaccine distribution.
The Ten Associations Represented in the Letter
- Air Movement and Control Association (AMCA)
- American Public Gas Association (APGA
- Indoor Air Quality Association (IAQA)
- National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA)
- National Association of Oil & Energy Service Professionals (OESP)
- National Energy & Fuels Institute (NEFI)
- Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (RSES)
- Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors – National Association (PHCC)
- Women in Energy
- Women in HVACR
Michael Ivanovich, AMCA International, senior director, Global Affairs, explained that vaccinating technicians not only protects them from being exposed in buildings where COVID patients are being treated, it also helps stop technicians from inadvertently spreading COVID as they move and work in numerous buildings.
“HVAC technicians are on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic because they are needed to ensure indoor environmental quality for all types of buildings — from hospitals and elder-care facilities to schools and commercial businesses,” he said. “Also, vaccine handling and storage is demonstrating the importance of refrigeration systems, and contractors are needed to ensure they are operating as they should.”
Chris Czarnecki, ACCA’s government relations representative and coalitions manager also added, “Contractors and technicians who have worked tirelessly through the thick of the pandemic in order to help preserve our modern way of life deserve priority vaccine access because they deserve to go to work every day without fear that they or their families might contract a deadly disease.”
It is clear that HVACR professionals are a critical part of our delicate eco-system and it is of upmost importance to keep them safe, as well as not put others at risk during the process.