Seafarers and air crews need to prioritise vaccination

The heads of five UN organisations have called for COVID-19 vaccination priority for maritime and air transport workers, given their critical role in supporting global trade and mobility, which is essential for sustainable socio-economic recovery.

Maritime and air transport depends on seafarers and air crews. These are key workers who are required to travel across borders, which may – although contrary to WHO recommendations – result in them having to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination as a condition of entry into some countries.

The UN COVID-19 Crisis Management Team, led by the World Health Organization (WHO), has concluded that all countries should treat seafarers and aircrew who must travel and cross borders during a pandemic as a priority group for COVID-19 vaccination.

Safe cross-border movement for seafarers and air crews must be facilitated in order for maritime and air transport to continue to operate safely. We reiterate our call for countries that have not yet done so to recognise seafarers and aircrew as key workers,” reads a joint statement signed by the heads of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The joint statement urges governments to prioritise seafarers and air crews in their national COVID-19 vaccination programmes, along with other essential personnel, in line with WHO’s SAGE map for prioritising COVID-19 vaccine use in the context of limited supplies.

Seafarers and air crews, to facilitate their safe movement across borders, must be protected by vaccination as soon as possible. We also call on governments to identify and prepare for COVID-19 vaccination challenges for seafarers and aircrew, especially for seafarers who spend long periods of time away from their home countries,” the statement read.

The organisations mentioned express their full support for the timely development of an international harmonised framework for vaccination certificates to facilitate international travel for seafarers and air crews.


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