Houston (KTRK) — Experts say vaccines are the best bet at fighting the more contagious COVID-19 variants, and while some are pushing back, many more are anxiously awaiting their turn.
Now, there’s a new push to get truck drivers to the front of the line. Eyewitness News spoke to a truck driver on Tuesday and he said they should be next.
“I just try to keep my mask on and just stay focused, because it’s hard here,” said Marlow Rodger. He’s a trucker from Alabama and was making a stop in Houston. “It’s hard to find a bathroom. You can’t bathe or shower.”
Rodger said he’s disappointed in the way the government handled the pandemic when it comes to the trucking industry.
Research done in Houston is revealing an issue that could put strain on the already challenged trucking industry, which has been relied on during the pandemic more than ever.
“I just think they just want (our cargo) to go where it has to go and the world to keep turning, but they don’t care about the people that’s driving, like us,” he said.
Rodgers said feels truckers should have been given the option to get the vaccine from the start.
“To me, it was shocking to see how much we have relied on truck drivers the past year, and essentially, excluded from the first phase and the second phase,” said Dr. Michael Lemke, a UHD assistant professor of health and human Behavior.
Lemke is a former trucker himself and said that the industry was overlooked. He spoke about the issue in his recent article for the American Journal of Industrial Medicine. He said that not only are truckers helping to distribute the vaccines, but they are also at a higher risk of getting the virus and transmitting it nationwide.
“We don’t know what their risk for spread is. If a driver is sick, they are going a long way, potentially encountering a lot of different people, and then they go home. What’s especially scary on top of that… drivers don’t have a lot of options to self-quarantine on the road,” explained Lemke.
He’s hoping his research helps drivers like Rodgers gain recognition for their service during the pandemic, but also receive the support they need especially right now.
“In my view, this is a critical period where policy can be potentially influenced,” said Lemke.
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