With the first COVID-19 vaccines now getting to frontline healthcare workers and those living and working in nursing home facilities, the further prioritization of essential workers for vaccination has become the next hurdle.
The Centers for Disease Control’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices said the next phase should favor those 75 years and older, as well as certain designated essential workers, which could include teachers, child-care providers, emergency workers, food processors and farm laborers.
“I think laundromats stand to possibly get lost in the shuffle,” said Coin Laundry Association President and CEO Brian Wallace. “We’re not talking about a lot of workers, when compared to millions of teachers or grocery store clerks.
“However, the approximately 120,000 essential laundromat employees remain hard at work in the nearly 30,000 laundromats throughout the U.S. and have been instrumental in delivering stepped up cleaning and disinfection procedures and socially distanced customer management – as well as, of course, the critical public health service of clean clothes for tens of millions of families each and every week through the pandemic. Maintaining a safe and healthy household begins with clean clothes and linens – now more than ever.
“Priority in immunization for these essential workers will be crucial in making sure our industry can continue offering safe access to self-service laundry facilities,” he continued. “Vaccinating laundromat workers also supports efforts to ensure equity in the immunization process as our workers come from the diverse, largely low-income neighborhoods they serve.”
To that end, the CLA has reached out to the ACIP, making the argument that laundromat workers are not only essential, but should be prioritized as the highest possible level for immunization – based on the essential public service they provide, as well as the fact that they have contact with the public on a daily basis.
The CLA also has been in touch with the National Governors Association, again presenting the same strong case for laundromat workers being given the highest possible prioritization for receiving the vaccine.
In addition, given the very public nature of the laundromat business, the CLA also is viewing the current situation as an ideal opportunity for laundry owners to reach out to their communities and educate their customers as to the importance of getting vaccinated.
“We want to advocate for laundromat workers to be vaccinated among the leading essential workers and as close to the front of the line as possible,” Wallace explained. “But we also want to look into what role the industry can play in sharing important information about the vaccination within the communities that we serve.”
Downloadable COVID-19 Resources
Visit the CLA’s COVID-19 Laundry Industry Updates page on their website. There you will find a press release for this advocacy effort and a downloadable sample letter to send to your governor:Access COVID-19 Resources