The American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) and seven other cargo transportation sector groups want the country’s supply chain professionals to get priority access to a Covid-19 vaccination.

In a letter to the US Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, and the Subcommittee on Transport and Safety, the associations said: “Prioritising vaccinations for freight, rail, port and energy workers will be a key intervention to help keep our critical supply chains operating, and to reinforce the resilience of our transportation networks.”

AAPA president and ceo, Christopher J. Connor, said that the USA’s supply chain industries, including its ports and their direct workforce of more than 650,000 front-line personnel, have kept essential goods moving to medical professionals, first responders and vital manufacturing, distribution and retail businesses during the pandemic. “Their dedication and perseverance has enabled commerce to continue flowing during a time of great risk to their personal health and well-being, ensuring the goods we want and need are available when and where we need them.”

In a separate letter, the AAPA and a host of other maritime transportation entities asked Congressional leadership and treasury secretary Steven Munchin for USD3.5 billion in Covid-19 relief funding to be made available to the USA’s maritime transportation sector.

Connor cited “significant hardships” and “unique and unexpected challenges” posed by the Covid-19 pandemic as reasons for the additional support. He said that most ports are still suffering financially, particularly those that handle non-containerised goods, like steel, grain and other bulk commodities. “The relief we’re seeking is about ensuring ports and other maritime transportation businesses are able to keep pace with the accelerating costs of protecting their workers while keeping their workforce employed, and maintaining a state of readiness so they can significantly aid in the nation’s eventual economic recovery,” he added.