Amazon asks Biden to prioritize its workers for the vaccine

Amazon asks Biden to prioritize its workers for the vaccine
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Ecommerce giant Amazon has reached out to newly installed US President Joe Biden to ask him to prioritize its workers in the vaccine distribution plans.

In a letter addressed to President Biden, Amazon executive Dave Clark said their essential workers should be among those prioritized in the US government's vaccine distribution plans.


Advocating for early vaccine access

Clark mentioned in the letter that Amazon "stands ready to assist" in fulfilling the president's pledge to vaccinate 100 million Americans in his first 100 days of office. He claimed that the company can help in broadening the vaccine distribution, although he did not discuss the details of this claim.

He wrote that Amazon is "prepared to leverage our operations, information technology, and communications capabilities and expertise to assist your administration's vaccination efforts. Our scale allows us to make a meaningful impact immediately in the fight against Covid-19, and we stand ready to assist you in this effort."

However, the Amazon executive said that in the US, the company has more than 800,000 employees, most of whom work in essential roles at Amazon fulfillment centers, AWS data centers, and Whole Foods Market stores.


Clark argued that these employees "should receive the Covid-19 vaccine at the earliest appropriate time" and mentioned that the ecommerce firm already has an existing agreement with a licensed third-party occupational health care provider to administer vaccines at its facilities.

This is not the first time that Amazon lobbied to get early access to the vaccine for its essential workers. In December, Clark also wrote to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices to gain access to the vaccine "at the earliest appropriate time."

Similar requests were submitted by other groups, including Uber for its drivers, and the National Retail Federation for the retail industry.


Covid-19 cases at Amazon

The push for early vaccine access is not surprising for Amazon as it admitted in October that 19,816 of its frontline US employees have contracted the coronavirus.

It was the first time that the company made an official statement regarding how the coronavirus pandemic has affected its employees. The company has been previously refusing to share comprehensive data on the total number of COVID-19 positive workers at its warehouses.

Neither the public nor Amazon employees were aware the total number of coronavirus cases at the company despite the numerous confirmed cases at warehouses across the US and globally.

The firm has been trying to dismiss the importance of releasing site or aggregate information on the number of cases.

Amazon wrote in a blog post that it conducted a “thorough analysis of data on all 1,372,000 Amazon and Whole Foods Market front-line employees across the US employed at any time from March 1 to September 19, 2020.”

The retail company then made a comparison between its case rates and the general population during the same period, through reporting Johns Hopkins University reports. It pointed out that based on that comparison, the number of its employees that tested, or were presumed to be, positive was 42% lower than expected.