HVAC industry organizations are urging states to get HVACR techs, along with those working in other skilled trades, to the top of the list of those approved to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccine is already in initial stages of deployment — Phase 1A — and is going out to healthcare workers, vulnerable seniors, and those in long-term care facilities. Now, states are choosing which essential workers should be included in the next stage of distribution.
Already deemed essential in the most recent list of critical infrastructure workers, HVACR technicians, plumbing and utility service professionals, and heating fuel delivery drivers must enter homes and businesses on a daily basis to service, repair, or replace plumbing, heating, or ventilation systems, refrigeration units, or related appliances and equipment. There is frequent interactions with homeowners, tenants, and their family members, some of which are members of the most vulnerable populations. These workers always wear personal protective equipment and strictly abide by CDC guidelines to protect themselves and their customers, however, there is always a risk of exposure — especially when working in smaller residential units.
Several industry organizations have banded together to ask that these factors be considered for the next steps in the national vaccine plan, and to prioritize these professionals as critical workers in Phase 1B of COVID-19 vaccine distribution.
While vaccine distribution does not rest exclusively with the federal government, the CDC, or national medical organizations, organizations at the federal level provide guidance to state and local governments, and will be pivotal for seamless vaccine distribution among all stakeholders, helping to ensure the long-term health of American families and workers, and bolster the national economic recovery.
Mark Zarzeczny, ASCS, CVI, NADCA’s President and Chairman of the Board, said, “As the weather turns colder, and Americans head indoors, they’ll rely more and more on HVACR technicians to keep their homes and businesses warm.”
This recent action isn’t the first time NADCA has advocated for its members. Earlier this year, NADCA partnered with two other organizations to release a joint statement to federal, state, and local officials requesting they recognize and cite HVAC technicians, air duct cleaning companies, surface cleaning/disaster restoration contractors, and indoor air quality professionals as essential businesses.
To further support members, NADCA created a website that serves as a repository of useful information for the industry during the COVID-19 pandemic. For instance, NADCA anticipates a greater consumer demand for NADCA members to “sanitize” or “disinfect” HVAC systems, and while numerous antimicrobials on the market have been approved for use in HVAC systems and ductwork, not all antimicrobials approved for HVAC components can be claimed to sanitize or disinfect. The support site includes guidelines for the use of chemicals and antimicrobials in HVAC systems.
Finally, with a dangerous shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) in the healthcare industry earlier this year, NADCA called on members to donate PPE to the GetUsPPE organization. NADCA represents more than 1,300 small and large businesses and more than 3,000 certified technicians, with most using PPE on a regular basis. Items requested included gloves, masks, N95 Respirators, face shields, booties, safety goggles, and more.