ORANGE – The Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) commended the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for recommending public transit workers be included among those who should receive priority for the COVID-19 vaccine.
The CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted Sunday, Dec. 20, to approve interim recommendations for vaccine prioritization that include frontline essential workers – including public transit – in Phase 1b, the phase directly following health care personnel.
OCTA has joined a coalition of California public transportation agencies in asking the state, which determines priority for distribution, to also include public transit workers as among the first to receive the vaccine (see letter attached).
“Public transportation has proven to be a daily lifeline for thousands of essential workers in our community, throughout the state and nationwide and we thank the CDC for this recommendation to help ensure the health of all the men and women who are safely operating our transit systems,” said OCTA Chairman Steve Jones, also the Mayor of Garden Grove. “As we experience the most difficult days of the pandemic, but with hope on the horizon, we respectfully ask the state to do all it can to protect the employees who keep Orange County and the rest of California moving.”
Since March, OCTA has taken multiple steps to help ensure the health and safety of its employees and the public. This includes fleetwide enhanced daily bus cleaning, installing onboard hand sanitizers and face-covering dispensers, limiting the number of passengers for social distancing and shifting service to accommodate busier routes, and installing plexiglass shields for drivers. A multilingual public outreach campaign has also reinforced proper hygiene and safety practices and reinforced OCTA’s requirement that passengers wear face coverings while waiting for and riding the bus.
“I’m incredibly proud of the work that all of our employees have done and continue doing to ensure each and every trip is a safe one for those who rely upon public transit,” said OCTA CEO Darrell E. Johnson. “Transportation is vital for our community, for all the essential workers, for the public’s ability to access healthcare, buy food, or get to school, and because of this we join with agencies throughout California in requesting that OCTA’s frontline workers receive the vaccine as early as possible.
About OCTA: The Orange County Transportation Authority is the county transportation planning commission, responsible for funding and implementing transit and capital projects for a balanced and sustainable transportation system that reflects the diverse travel needs of the county’s 34 cities and 3.2 million residents. With the mission of keeping Orange County moving, this includes freeways and express lanes, bus and rail transit, rideshare, commuter rail, environmental programs and active transportation.