Retail workers waiting to hear about their place in vaccination line

Essential workers on P.E.I. are scheduled to receive vaccines against COVID-19 in the spring, and retail workers are wondering where they fit into that.

Phase 2 of the province's vaccination program, which includes essential workers, will run from April to June.

Jim Cormier, director of government relations in Atlantic Canada for the Retail Council of Canada, said he has been talking with public health officials around the region, including on P.E.I., to stay up to date on the vaccination priority list.

"We're not going to insert ourselves into those debates, because that's for public health to determine," said Cormier.

"Our members are experts at supply chains and running retail businesses. They are not experts in public health. We will take our direction from public health."

Priority list still being developed

Marion Dowling, chief of nursing for Health PEI, said she has not yet heard about where retailers fit on the list.

Those decisions are being made by a steering committee at the Chief Public Health Office, and Health PEI's job is the logistics of getting the vaccines into arms as quickly and efficiently as possible. Currently, Health PEI is still focused on people who have a high risk of serious complications if they do contract COVID-19.


That includes long-term care homes and the staff there, said Dowling. "Then we'll be looking at other groups that are associated with those types of homes and those populations."

That would include partners in care, family members and friends designated as the principal contacts of residents in long-term care.

Truckers have already heard they are high on the list of essential workers who will receive the vaccine.

Numbers uncertain

An important factor to consider is how much vaccine is available for those designated as high priority.

It would take some time to determine how much vaccine would be required to cover retail workers, said Cormier.

While Statistics Canada has numbers for people working in retail, that would include people not out on the floor working with customers, such as warehouse and administrative staff, who would not necessarily be deemed high priority.

It becomes that much more complicated if you want to consider first vaccinating particular sectors, such as grocery and pharmacy workers.

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