Wall Street could get a shot in the arm in the coming months, while much of Main Street waits months for their COVID inoculations.
Lenders, bank tellers and traders could jump ahead of most Americans for vaccines, after such remedies receive emergency authorization by the Food and Drug Administration, potentially putting financial industry workers ahead of those aged above 65, adults with medical issues and the rest of the U.S. population.
The American Bankers Association said it has asked for the CDC to designate financial services industry as “essential workers,” following guidelines issued by the Department of Homeland Security.
“We are encouraging public health authorities to follow the existing DHS guidance and include financial services employees as part of the 1b group, but we think front-line bank employees who deal with a large number of people every day should be gave priority to, at a minimum,” said Paul Benda, senior vice president, risk and cybersecurity policy at the American Bankers Association.
A vaccine will remain a distant hope for millions for several months, as major Western nations, including the U.S. and Europe, have struck deals with drugmakers for Covid-19 remedies, with initial supplies likely to be extremely limited at a time when cases of the deadly infection are spiking in many parts of the U.S.
The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), an independent panel made up of health experts, recommended to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday that vaccines should first go to front-line health care workers and residents in nursing homes and assisted living facilities.
‘As a son of a nurse and a wife who’s a speech pathologist at a hospital, I’d be comfortable taking a backseat on the vaccine.’
But after them, essential workers, which could include those working in financial services, are recommended to stand second in line, ahead of those aged above 65 and adults with medical issues that could lead to severe illness should they contract Covid-19.
Though an independent panel, ACIP’s recommendations are highly influential within the CDC and are often accepted. This later feeds into the CDC’s official guidance which, in turn, is passed around the country.
The ACIP didn’t list the professions of those who might fall under essential workers, but the DHS defines essential workers as those who conduct a range of operations and services that are typically essential to continue critical infrastructure operations, and normally have included firefighters, teachers and grocery workers.
Yet beyond those essential workers, guidance from the DHS’s Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency says those working in financial services should be included in this category.
Even if the CDC follows the DHS guidance, federal agencies don’t have the final word because local and state governments have wide discretion on how to give priority in vaccine distribution and determining which workers are essential.
Though, some financial services workers such as bank tellers may be at greater risk of Covid-19 exposure, other financial services workers grouped in the category said they were uncomfortable being bracketed as essential workers if a vaccine was distributed along the panel’s recommendations.
“As a son of a nurse and a wife who’s a speech pathologist at a hospital, I’d be comfortable taking a backseat on the vaccine,” said Michael Lorizio, senior fixed-income trader at Manulife Investment Management.
Many traders have been homebound throughout the pandemic that took root in March in the U.S., though some still head to offices outside of their homes.
The Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, an influential lobbying group for securities and banking in Washington, did not respond to a request for comment in time for publication.
The U.S. on Thursday set yet another record for new cases and fatalities in a single day from the coronavirus illness Covid-19, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said there could be 19,500 deaths in the week ended Dec. 26.