The Food and Drug Administration approved emergency use of Pfizer and BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine on Friday, paving the way for the national broadcast the first doses of the non-experimental vaccine, which began arriving in hospitals on Monday.
Speak recommendation of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), an independent group brought together by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), healthcare workers and residents of long-term care facilities will be the primary beneficiaries under the of phase 1a.
The banking business group, the American Bankers Association (ABA), is calling for frontline bank workers to be included in the second tranche, phase 1b, which includes core workers.
“[A]Among bank workers already deemed “essential” by the government, those who come into contact with the public on a daily basis, such as cashiers, should be considered for phase 1b of the CDC along with essential workers from other industries. ” an ABA spokesperson said on Monday.
The ABA, which said it has been working with public health agencies since the start of the pandemic, written to CDC Thursday, reiterating his position that frontline bank employees should be considered for inclusion in phase 1b.
In his letter to the CDC, Paul Benda, senior vice president of risk policy and cybersecurity at the ABA, quoted the Department of Homeland Security advice which designates a range of “essential” bank employees given their unique roles in favor of the economy and their local communities.
“This important designation allows them to do their jobs and travel as needed when states and localities impose restrictions related to the pandemic,” Benda wrote. “We deeply appreciate that CDC’s ACIP has already recommended that ‘core’ staff from various industries, including banks, be included in the Phase 1B immunization distribution sequence after healthcare workers and residents of long-term care. “
Benda said the ABA believes frontline workers who come into contact with customers, such as cashiers and loan officers, face the highest risk of infection and have the greatest risk of spreading. of the virus if they are infected.
“[T]These frontline workers… are absolutely essential, especially in communities where residents may not have access to electronic banking tools, ”Benda wrote.
Each state will ultimately determine its own vaccine delivery sequencing. However, Benda said, the CDC’s recommendations will likely serve as a guide in those decisions.
The CDC is expected to release guidelines on vaccine distribution to state and local health officials this week.
The ABA is not the only professional group in the industry calling for its frontline workers to be included in the second vaccination group. The National Retail Federation (NRF) and the National Restaurant Association have also argued that their frontline workers should receive the vaccine after healthcare workers and other first responders, according to The hill.
“Groceries are also essential, so these workers should be high on the list as well,” David French, NRF senior vice president for government relations, told the publication.
Since banks have been seen as critical businesses throughout the pandemic and have not been ordered to close branches, many have processed transactions through their steering wheel windows or authorize customers in branches by appointment only. Like other businesses still operating amid the pandemic, many bank branches have cut hours and office staff for security reasons.
Banks have also implemented employee temperature controls and rotating shifts to prevent office overcrowding.
Amid drastic changes in operations, many banks have reported spikes in the use of their digital offerings as more customers turn to mobile and online channels to complete transactions.
“It is clear that this [pandemic] shocked the behavior of bank customers and employees to become more fluent with digital technology, ”Joe Thomas, CEO of Freedom Bank in Fairfax, Virginia, said Banking Dive in May. “I think we will see more and more customers relying solely on the relationship using digital channels.”