March 3, 2021



Amazon asks CDC to prioritize its essential workers for COVID-19 vaccine at ‘earliest appropriate time’

An Amazon employee enters a fulfillment center in Kent, Wash., Before a shift in the massive package handling warehouse. (GeekWire File Photo / Kurt Schlosser)

As the first vaccines for COVID-19 are being administered in the US this week, Amazon is asking the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to take care of some of the tech giant’s workers as soon as possible.

In a letter Wednesday (below) to Dr. Jose Romero, the CDC’s chairman of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), Amazon’s Dave Clark, senior vice president of worldwide operations, said that the company’s essential workers have played a role in keeping customers safe by allowing them to get important products delivered at home.

“In many ways, our essential workers have served as heroes in their communities during this pandemic,” Clark wrote. “We request that ACIP continue to prioritize these essential workers who cannot work from home, like those working at Amazon fulfillment centers, AWS data centers, and Whole Foods Market stores, to receive the COVID-19 vaccine at the earliest appropriate time.”

The Wall Street Journal first reported on the request, and Amazon provided the letter to GeekWire.

With 800,000 workers in the US, Seattle-based Amazon is the nation’s second largest employer behind Walmart. Other industries are also lobbying the CDC to be near the front of the line for vaccines, the WSJ reported, including airlines, meat industry and grocery groups. Reuters reported that the US National Retail Federation also made a request on Wednesday.

The ACIP’s guidance for allocation of the initial supplies of the vaccine recommends that health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities be the first to get vaccinated. Washington state, with 214,000 COVID cases and 3,123 deaths, shared details of vaccine distribution plans last week.

Amazon said it has committed more than $ 10 billion to combat COVID-19 in its workplaces this year, including its own testing initiatives. And Clark is not alone is his letter writing.

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi sent letters last week to every US governor requesting that they prioritize paid drivers and delivery workers as essential workers deserving early early access to the vaccine.

Meanwhile, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg reportedly told his employees during an all-hands meeting on Thursday that they will not be required to get vaccinated in order to return to work.

Read Dave Clark’s letter to the CDC in full:

Amazon SVP Dave Clark’s letter to the CDC. (Via Amazon)