Uber Asks CDC to Consider Drivers Essential, Wants Early Vaccinations

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

On Thursday, Uber Technologies made a request with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that its drivers be deemed essential and up first for the COVID-19 vaccination. While slightly presumptuous, it’s hardly the only business to make such a plea. Delivery services, the trucking industry, food producers, and more have asked the CDC to make sure their employees have first whack at being inoculated.

With lockdowns still occurring, nobody wants to be made subject to new restrictions — especially if it hampers their ability to make money. Unfortunately, estimates leave widespread vaccinations a logistical impossibility until the middle of 2021.

According to Reuters, Uber issued a letter to the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices stating that its drivers provided critical transportation for essential workers and allowed others to stay home and order food.

“Early access to a vaccine would help drivers and delivery people continue to play their essential role while also reducing the risk that they may inadvertently contract, or possibly transmit, the virus,” read the letter, signed by Uber’s head of federal affairs, Danielle Burr.

From Reuters:

The CDC Advisory Committee is drafting recommendations for who should be prioritized for distribution, and on Tuesday said healthcare personnel and residents of long-term care facilities should receive the vaccine first.

A U.S. government agency in August included ride-hail, taxi, delivery and car rental services in a list of essential critical infrastructure workers that also included more than 300 other job categories.

[Image: MikeDotta/Shutterstock]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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9 of 16 comments
  • ToolGuy ToolGuy on Dec 04, 2020

    Vaccination worker: "It says here you have been an Uber driver since this morning - is that right?" Me: "Yes, yes it is."

  • Brn Brn on Dec 04, 2020

    I'm classified as an essential employee from a Covid perspective, but I don't want a vaccine before those that really deserve it (those on the front line that are keeping us safe). Shame on Uber for trying put it's business at that same level.

    • See 2 previous
    • Lou_BC Lou_BC on Dec 06, 2020

      @2manycars I take it you don't understand how any of this works. Flu vaccines are developed new every year based upon the 3 most likely infuenza strains to hit North America. Think about that....New vaccines every year. There are 6 typical ways to make a vaccine. All the same as making a flu vaccine. mRNA is the newest form. The majority of side effects show up in 40 days. Most trials have at least 60 days of observation. By the time it gets to production it will be more likely 6 months of observation. The mRNA vaccine elicits a strong response that mimics COVID-19 side effects for a few days. That's actually a good sign. It shows that your immune system is responding. As far as tumors the size of cauliflower growing out your ears, that shows that you don't understand cancer either.

  • Dwford Dwford on Dec 05, 2020

    I am a full time Uber driver. I do 20 trips a day. Imagine if I was COVID positive. That's a lot of people to contact trace. It's not about Uber making money. There are plenty of drivers to step in when one gets sick. It makes sense to get ride share drivers vaccinated early.

    • See 1 previous
    • Lou_BC Lou_BC on Dec 06, 2020

      @brn Essential workers are 1st front line healthcare workers, paramedics, fire/rescue, and police. You can then look at those in services essential to society. Taxi drivers... er.. Uber drivers are a lot lower on the list.

  • Tonycd Tonycd on Dec 05, 2020

    As the first few posters said, this is amazingly slimy on Uber's part. Mind you, Uber was just at the forefront of a successful $200 million propaganda campaign to convince California voters that its own drivers were NOT entitled to the protections of employees.