Starting next week, transit workers will be eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations at the directive of the state, officials announced Friday. And Santa Clara County will be following in suite.
Transit workers, along with those with at least one severe health condition represent the next batch of eligible inoculations starting on March 15.
Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority officials called this move a win for transit workers who have been on the front lines every day since the start of the pandemic a year ago.
The "hard-fought victory" is the result of four transit unions and the VTA advocating at the state and local level to get their workers vaccinated as soon as possible. "We fought for this to happen on the front lines while keeping transit service on the street," Amalgamated Transit Union Local 265 President John Courtney said.
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The transit union represents 45 percent of the VTA's workforce, mainly consisting of bus and light rail operators. "We are ready to get in line, roll up our sleeves and take our shot," Courtney said.
Earlier this year, the VTA submitted a prioritized list of frontline employees who have the most interaction with the public to Santa Clara County's Department of Public Health.
Officials said they are working with the county on vaccine implementation while setting "realistic expectations" for vaccinations as vaccine supply remains a constraint in the county. "I feel like it's Christmas in March," said Glenn Hendricks, VTA's board chair.
"Protecting VTA workers through vaccination adds one more layer of protection for our customers, employees, and their families and loved ones."