Nearly four months ago, the first COVID-19 vaccines made their way across the United States, courtesy of Pfizer and BioNTech. Shortly thereafter, the national vaccine rollout began, inoculating high-risk essential workers as well as senior citizens over the age of 65. However, one group has been noticeably absent from early COVID-19 vaccination eligibility: USPS workers. Year after year, USPS ranks as America’s most beloved government agency. In 2020, the Postal Service even topped the list of the United States’ most essential companies. So, why does the government still view USPS employees as non-essential?
USPS Workers Not Prioritized for COVID-19 Vaccines, Despite Essentiality
6 days a week, USPS letter carriers deliver mail to every single residential address in the United States. As such, letter carriers arguably interact with more people than any other group of workers in the country. By that logic, they are one of the most essential—and high-risk—groups of people in the country.
Still, initial vaccine rollouts in many stats haven’t included postal workers, even though the CDC recommended to include postal workers in the “1-B” status along with other essential workers.
For months, the American Postal Workers Union (APWU) has pushed for the government to recognize its members as essential workers. The following excerpt is taken from a statement the union provided in late January:
“Many essential workers are still waiting for their vaccines even as they report to work every day, including postal workers, who have continued to interact with the public and connect the people of the country during the pandemic.”
When Can Letter Carriers Get the Vaccine?
At the time of publishing this article, the United States is on track to reach 100 million shots of the vaccine in Americans’ arms. When USPS letter carriers can receive the COVID-19 vaccine depends on the state in which they live.
Recently, Arizona’s Maricopa County began making shots available to postal and transit workers. In neighboring Colorado, postal workers will be eligible for the vaccine beginning on March 19. Even so, the nationwide timeline for all USPS workers to receive vaccination remains uncertain.
I'd like to remind everyone that the majority of United States Postal Workers have not been able to get the vaccine, including my parents.
— Naomi Ko (@konaomie) March 11, 2021
Of course, if a letter carrier falls into the age group of 60+, they are currently eligible to be vaccinated. Still, USPS workers as a whole remain ineligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Although President Biden promises every adult will be able to get a vaccine by May 1st, it’s unclear whether or not USPS workers will receive priority eligibility before then.