Water Sector Coordinating Council COVID-19 Vaccinations Statement
The Water Sector Coordinating Council, comprising representatives of the national water and wastewater organizations, urges drinking water and wastewater utilities across the country to contact their state and local public health agencies to ensure their staff members are included in Phase 1-B of their communities’ COVID-19 vaccine distribution plans. Based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID-19 Vaccination Program Interim Playbook for Jurisdiction Operations, water and wastewater utility employees should be among those eligible for inclusion in this early phase given their federal designation as “essential workers.” However, it is critical for utilities to work with local agencies to ensure this federal guidance translates into local action.
Vaccinating frontline water and wastewater utility staff members is particularly important because, as a lifeline sector, water and wastewater sector services underpin all aspects of society, including hospitals and long-term care facilities. Due to the specialized skills and licenses required for utility operations, and the corresponding challenges in finding replacements for staff members who may become ill or exposed, it is essential to mitigate staff members’ COVID-19 risks through all possible means, including vaccinations.