The Trucking Association of New York expects a significant number of its members will have opted not to get vaccinated for COVID-19 as new cross-border rules requiring those vaccines go into effect Saturday.
"We've been working with our national counterpart to not necessarily stop the mandate, but at least delay it to give some more time and unfortunately that does not appear it's going to happen," Kendra Hems, Trucking Association of NY president, said.
Hems says a national survey in November showed only 55% of drivers had received their shots and about 36% indicated they had no intention of getting them.
"Whether or not those numbers have changed in light of the recent spike of COVID, I don't know for certain, however we do know there is a large number that just based on our discussions with our membership that are not planning on being vaccinated," Hems said.
SUNY Economist Fred Floss says in other industries, as vaccine requirements have gone into effect, the impact has typically not been as bad as expected.
"While people complain and individuals said they would never get the vaccine, when it came to I lose my job and my family's no longer going to have my income, people acquiesce and go get the vaccine," Floss said.
However, Floss admits the latest surge in COVID cases has exacerbated supply chain issues nationally. He says the cross-border requirements, which go into effect for the Canadian government Saturday and the U.S. the following week, will likely have the biggest impacts on certain agriculture products as well as the auto industry.
"There are parts plants on both sides of the border that go back and forth regularly and Western New York is one of the biggest cross-border areas so we're going to have a bigger impact than other places in the country," Floss said.
Hems says the association is also very worried about the long-term impact if more drivers leave the industry altogether.
The national shortage has grown by about 20,000 since the pandemic started.
"Then industry is already short about 80,000 drivers across the country and so mandates that unfortunately provide additional incentive to leave the industry are very concerning," Hems said.
Floss says the impact will be clearer in a few weeks.