On July 16, the World Health Organization (WHO) listed seafarers on cargo ships as a key group that should be prioritised for vaccinations. This was a move that ECSA and ETF applauded.
WHO updated guidance, in line with their previous calls for seafarers’ priority access to vaccination and praise the initiatives already in place in a number of European countries. However, they said that more needs to be done, and they are urged the remaining EU Member States to follow suit.CSA and ETF welcomed the
Seafarers all over the world are still facing severe restrictions which are forcing many of them to be stuck at sea, risking serious issues to their physical and mental well-being that might impede ships’ operations. Yet, global seaborne supply chains supply the world with 90% of everything we consume as well as so much needed medical equipment, personal protective equipment, medicines and vaccinations to combat Covid19
More specifically, WHO released the updated guidance for Stage II of its vaccine roadmap, in order to provide a framework for overall program priorities as well as vaccine-specific recommendations. As it says, the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE) includes:
Seafarers and air crews who work on vessels that carry goods and no passengers, with special attention to seafarers who are stranded at sea and prevented from crossing international borders for crew change due to travel restrictions
Furthermore, the IMO has made a number of calls for priority vaccination for seafarers, including issuing a joint statement with other UN organizations in March 2021, calling for seafarers and aircrew to be prioritized for COVID-19 vaccination.
Finally, in May, IMO adopted a resolution which encouraged priority vaccination for seafarers in national COVID-19 vaccination programmes and Secretary-General Lim called on all IMO Member States to designate seafarers as ‘key workers’ and support a fair global distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.