On Tuesday, September 1, the National Academies of Science Engineering and Medicine (NASEM) released its draft framework on equitable allocation of COVID-19 vaccine. The study was requested by the CDC and the National Institutes of Health with the expectation that such a framework would inform the decisions by health authorities, including the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), as they create and implement national and/or local guidelines for COVID-19 vaccine allocation.
You face risks of exposure to the coronavirus as you continue to serve families. We want funeral directors to receive priority access to the COVID-19 vaccine and be included in the definition of healthcare workers in the final guidance on vaccine prioritization.
Your voice can help demonstrate the importance of funeral directors being prioritized.
We ask all NFDA members to tell the NASEM that funeral directors should have priority access to the COVID-19 vaccine. You must make your voice heard before the public comment period closes at 11:59 p.m. ET this Friday, September 4!
Making your voice heard is easy!
Step 1: Click the following link to access the public comment form: https://www.nap.edu/vaccine/
Step 2: Fill out your name, email address, affiliation type (select “Individual" from the drop down menu) and issues addressed in comment (“Priority Populations” would be the most appropriate option).
Step 3: Copy and paste the sample letter below into the “Your Comments” section. While it’s not necessary, you can personalize the letter if you wish.
Step 4: Click “Submit.”
By taking just a few moments today, you can take a step toward protecting your health and that of your colleagues!
If you have any questions about the comment process or about the issue, please contact Lesley Witter, senior vice president, Advocacy at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sample letter – copy and paste in the comment form:
Subject: Take Action – Make Funeral Directors a Priority for COVID-19 Vaccine
Due to the high risk of exposure to the COVID-19 virus, on behalf of myself and my colleagues, I urge you to include deathcare workers in the top-tier of essential services to receive a vaccine when it becomes available. Doing so protects the health, not only deathcare professionals, but the entire community in which they work.
Deathcare professionals are at high-risk for exposure to COVID-19 as they enter hospitals, nursing homes, and residences to take the body of a decedent into their care; as they meet with surviving family members who may have been exposed to the coronavirus; and as they prepare the bodies of pandemic victims for burial or cremation.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, deathcare professionals have provided critical services by caring for the dead and their grieving families, but they cannot continue to do so safely without priority access to an approved vaccine.
Because of these multiple risks of exposure and the vital role deathcare workers are playing during this public health crisis, the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) issued guidance on March 19 classifying mortuary workers as “critical infrastructure workers.” In recognition of their service on the front line of the pandemic, deathcare workers were put into the “Healthcare and Public Health” category alongside other frontline caregivers like doctors and nurses.
Prioritizing deathcare workers is not without precedent. In 2008, when facing the H1N1 pandemic, the CDC elevated “Mortuary Service Providers” to the Tier II level for vaccine prioritization. There were six tiers to the system, with the most critical workers and personnel in Tiers I, II, and III.
As one of nearly 141,000 funeral professionals in the United States, I am grateful for your leadership and stand ready, as always, to care for the dead and the families left behind.