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Pushing for the cleaning industry to get priority vaccine access

ISSA and the American Cleaning Institute want to see the cleaning industry high on the COVID-19 vaccine priority list.
Friday, December 11, 2020

ISSA has written to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices to ask that the entire cleaning supply chain be given priority access to vaccines in order to safely continue to fight the COVID-19 pandemic without interruption.

John Nothdurft, ISSA’s Director of Government Affairs, said in a letter dated December 3 that “our members are on the front lines of protecting public health through the manufacturing of cleaning equipment, cleaning products, sanitizers, and disinfectants, and by providing cleaning services that protect schools, daycare centres, grocery stores, medical institutions, residential care facilities, multifamily housing units, warehouses, office buildings, and other institutions.”

He added it’s “imperative” that essential cleaning workers get prioritized access to COVID-19 vaccines to help minimize disruptions in the industry’s supply chain of cleaning and hygiene-related products that are critical to public health. ISSA is asking the CDC to protect frontline workers tasked with sanitizing, cleaning, and disinfecting.

In the letter, Nothdurft notes that “essential” cleaning workers were defined by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) in March as including:

  • Workers at manufacturers [of] cleaning, sanitizing, disinfecting or sterilization supplies (including dispensers), sanitary goods, personal care products, pest control products, and tissue and paper towel products
  • Workplace safety workers
  • Public health and environmental health workers
  • Workers supporting the sanitation and pest control of all human and animal food manufacturing processes and operations from wholesale to retail
  • Workers necessary to maintaining the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences, businesses and buildings, such as hospitals and senior living facilities
  • Workers who support hazardous materials response and cleanup
  • Workers supporting the production of protective cleaning and medical solutions, PPE, chemical consumer and institutional products, disinfectants, fragrances, and packaging that prevents the contamination of food, water, medicine, among others essential products
  • Workers supporting the operations of commercial buildings that are critical to safety, security, and the continuance of essential activities, such as janitorial personnel
  • Workers who produce hygiene products
  • Workers providing disinfection services for all essential facilities and modes of transportation and who support the sanitation of all food manufacturing processes and operations from wholesale to retail
  • Support required for continuity of services, including commercial disinfectant services, janitorial and cleaning personnel, and support personnel functions that need freedom of movement to access facilities in support of frontline workers
  • Workers supporting the production of home cleaning, pest control, and other essential products necessary to clean, disinfect, sanitize, and ensure the cleanliness of residential homes, shelters, and commercial facilities
  • Workers supporting the production of home cleaning and pest control products

In the letter, ISSA reaffirmed it supports the CDC’s efforts to prioritize access to COVID-19 vaccines. It noted that the cleaning industry plays a “uniquely important” role in protecting public health during the current health emergency.

“We hope the CDC will recognize the importance of the cleaning industry and its supply chain so that our businesses and workers can safely continue to fight the transmission of COVID-19,” Nothdurft concluded.

ISSA’s request has been echoed by the American Cleaning Institute. The ACI also sent a letter to the CDC campaigning for people who make cleaning products, hand sanitizer, and disinfectants to be included in the first priority group for essential workers receiving the vaccine.

In Canada, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) released comprehensive preliminary guidance on prioritizing early COVID-19 immunization. Among the key groups identified were “workers essential to COVID-19 response” and “essential services for the functioning of society”.

NACI added that Stage 1 of the vaccination process should see healthcare workers prioritized, among other groups, including “all those who work in healthworkcare settings and personal support workers whose work involves direct contact with patients.” The committee noted that healthcare workers providing frontline care to patients are differentially exposed to SARS-CoV-2, and are needed to protect healthcare capacity. Priority immunization of this group would minimize the “disproportionate” burden of those taking on additional risks to protect the public. NACI noted this should be expanded to other healthcare workers based on subsequent supply availability.

In summary, that group includes:

  • Hospital employees
  • Other staff who work or study in hospitals, such as healthcare students, contract workers, and volunteers
  • Other healthcare personnel, such as those working in clinical laboratories, nursing homes, home care agencies, and community settings

Stage 2, says the NACI, should then incorporate:

  • Health care workers not included in the initial rollout
  • Residents and staff of all other congregate settings (e.g., quarters for migrant workers, correctional facilities, homeless shelters)
  • Essential workers

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