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How the U.S. DOT is preparing for the COVID-19 vaccine

12.10.2020 - 11:44 AM Comments: 0

As the COVID-19 vaccine inches closer towards approval, the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) has announced the regulatory measures it will be taking in order to safely transport the vaccine.

In order to ensure safety and rapid transportation by air and land, the department has “established the appropriate safety requirements for all potential hazards involved with shipping the vaccine, including standards for dry ice and lithium batteries.”

According to the DOT, department officials have been working closely with personnel at Operation Warp Speed and private sector companies in coordinating logistics for the vaccine’s transportation. 

Companies with experience shipping cold-chain/refrigerated goods such as UPS, FedEx, and Thermo King have already begun to prepare as they await the vaccine’s approval. 

Additionally, the DOT has been diligent in creating flexibility for truckers and carriers throughout the pandemic by granting a nationwide exemption to hours-of-service regulations for those providing direct emergency assistance. 

This is likely set to continue upon the approval of a vaccine, as the FMCSA extended its COVID-19 emergency declaration to February 28, 2021. This would ultimately allow for shipments of the vaccine to be expedited from manufacturing facilities to distribution centers and medical facilities. 

However, it’s important to remember that this extension of regulatory relief must only be used by those supporting relief efforts intended to meet immediate needs for:

  • Vaccines, constituent products, and medical supplies and equipment including ancillary supplies/kits for the administration of vaccines, related to the prevention of COVID-19.
  • Medical supplies and equipment related to the testing, diagnosis, and treatment of COVID-19.
  • Supplies and equipment necessary for community safety, sanitation, and prevention of community transmission of COVID-19 such as masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, soap, and disinfectants.
  • Livestock and livestock feed.
  • Food, paper products, and other groceries for emergency restocking of distribution centers or stores.

Per the FMCSA press release, direct assistance does not include routine commercial deliveries, including mixed loads with a nominal quantity of qualifying emergency relief items. 

Overall, the DOT is preparing for the trucking industry to play a big role in the transportation of the upcoming vaccine. Though shipping the vaccine may be tricky to figure out, carriers and logistics personnel have said they’re also prepared, according to CCJ.

So, what do you think about the DOT’s plan to ship the vaccine? Let us know in the comments or on social media!

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