Taxi and private hire industry representatives have come together to release a new petition calling for priority coronavirus vaccinations for all working drivers.
The new petition has been created by GMB Regional Officer, Steve Garelick, with the aim of gathering public and industry support for the priority inoculation against COVID-19.
The petition argues that workers in the roles of taxi, private hire, bus drivers and couriers could potentially become ‘super spreaders’ without the early vaccinations.
The representative bodies backing the move for urgent industry vaccination include the LPHCA (Licensed Private Hire Car Association), ADCU (App Drivers and Couriers Union), GMB and more.
A spokesperson from the LPHCA wrote on social media: “The LPHCA is writing to government to insist Taxi and PHV (Private Hire Vehicle) drivers are given priority vaccination status and will be seeking support from other trade bodies.
“Both trades are high risk for passengers and drivers due to close proximity and the risk of onward transmission/super spreading.”
Taxi representatives have already been pushing for taxi drivers to be one of the first groups to receive COVID-19 vaccines immediately after news of a new vaccine was released.
In November, London’s biggest taxi driver association, the Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association (LTDA), called on Government to include cabbies as one of the first groups to receive any vaccine.
Men working as taxi drivers and chauffeurs were shown to be one of the most at risk in an occupational study based around the death rates of COVID-19.
In the summer of 2020, the Office of National Statistics (ONS) analysed all 4,761 deaths involving the coronavirus in the working age population, those aged 20 to 64 years, in England and Wales registered between 9 March and 25 May. Of those deaths, 134 were taxi drivers or chauffeurs.
Nearly two-thirds of these deaths (3,122) were among men. Because of the higher number of deaths among men, 17 specific occupations were found to have raised rates of death involving COVID-19, some of which included:
Taxi drivers and chauffeurs (65.3 deaths per 100,000; 134 deaths),
Bus and coach drivers (44.2 deaths per 100,000; 53 deaths),
Chefs (56.8 deaths per 100,000; 49 deaths),
Sales and retail assistants (34.2 deaths per 100,000; 43 deaths).
Of the 17 specific occupations among men in England and Wales found to have higher rates of death involving COVID-19, data shows that 11 of these have statistically significantly higher proportions of workers from Black and Asian ethnic backgrounds (BAME); for women, data shows that two of the four specific occupations with elevated rates have statistically significantly higher proportions of workers from BAME backgrounds.
The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock, was responding to questions from MPs on the subject of COVID vaccines.
According to latest data there are currently over 350,000 licensed taxi and private hire drivers in England alone.