Trucking association aims to get B.C. drivers vaccinated in Washington state

·2 min read
North Dakota is offering Manitoba truck drivers the opportunity to get vaccinated in the United States. The president of the B.C. Trucking Association says he is speaking with officials in Washington to try to set up a similar program for B.C. drivers. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck - image credit)
North Dakota is offering Manitoba truck drivers the opportunity to get vaccinated in the United States. The president of the B.C. Trucking Association says he is speaking with officials in Washington to try to set up a similar program for B.C. drivers. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck - image credit)

British Columbian truck drivers moving goods in and out of the United States could soon be getting their COVID-19 vaccines if the B.C. Trucking Association is successful in its efforts to strike a deal with officials south of the border.

The deal would not be unprecedented. Last week, Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum made a joint agreement to provide free vaccines to eligible Manitoba drivers during routine trips to the U.S. over the next six to eight weeks.

B.C. Trucking Association president Dave Earle said he is now engaging with officials on both sides of the border to try to set up a similar program now that Washington state has opened up its vaccine clinics to anyone who is eligible, while B.C. continues to work down by age group.

"Everybody is really anxious and looking for any opportunity to be vaccinated as quickly as possible," said Earle, speaking Monday on CBC's The Early Edition.

The Ministry of Health told CBC it has not signed any agreements with neighbouring states, but Earle is confident they can be convinced of the benefits of doing so.

"If for no other reason that [for] every person that gets vaccinated somewhere else, somebody goes up ahead in line," he said.

Travelling unprotected

Earle said there has been an "incredibly low infection rate" among commercial drivers during the pandemic, something he attributes to them following precautions, as well as the isolating nature of the job under the most normal of circumstances.

Having vaccine protection, however, will be a great comfort to drivers who are constantly travelling, he said.

In Manitoba, roughly 2,000-4,000 drivers are expected to take part in the program, which began April 21.

The North Dakota Department of Health will provide nurses and other staff to administer the first and second doses of the vaccine to provide full immunization of truckers.

The state will then provide proof of immunization to those who are vaccinated, and share records of immunization with Manitoba.

There is no cost to the Manitoba government for the program, as the U.S. government supplies the vaccine and reimburses the costs to administer doses, a news release from the province says.