The World Health Organization (WHO) has called for the prioritisation of seafarers and aircrew in national vaccine drives, deeming them essential workers.
In a joint statement with the Civil Aviation Organization, International Labour Organization and International Maritime Organization, amongst others, it describes maritime and air transport as “essential activities”, that are “key to a sustainable socio-economic recovery”.
The organisation says that as workers in these industries are “required to travel across borders at all times,” this “may result in the need for them to present proof of a COVID vaccination as a condition for entry in some countries”.
Whilst the WHO maintains that “at the present time, countries should not introduce requirements of proof of vaccination for international travel as a condition of entry”, it insists that “the safe cross border movement of seafarers and aircrew must be facilitated”.
Therefore, it calls on Governments to prioritise seafarers and aircrew in their national COVID vaccination programmes, “together with other essential workers”.
In Malta, aviation workers have in recent weeks called for vaccine priority. The country’s Union of Cabin Crew said that cabin crew members have “been at the forefront during this global pandemic, working lifeline schedules, repatriation flights and manning short notice cargo flights”.
The WHO emphasises the importance of aircrew staff, saying, the “application of stringent public health rules to aircrew, including quarantine, has resulted in hindered connectivity, operation complexity and significant cost”.
The organisation encourages Governments to follow its SAGE Prioritization Roadmap, which states that “essential workers outside health and education sectors should be considered for vaccination when there is moderate vaccine availability, enough for 21-50 per cent of the population”.
The statement comes as Malta’s vaccine drive continues to race ahead of many of its European neighbours, with the Government announcing this week that 25 per cent of the nation’s population has received at least one dose of the vaccine.
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