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IMO reiterate actions prioritizing seafarers in national Covid-19 vaccination

IMO reiterate actions prioritizing seafarers in national Covid-19 vaccination
May 26, 2021

The Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has highlighted the need for seafarers to be given priority access to coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19 vaccines, recognizing the unique and essential work of seafarers for international shipping and the world.

The MSC adopted a resolution on "Recommended action to prioritize COVID-19 vaccination of seafarers". The resolution recommends that the Member States and relevant national authorities prioritize their seafarers, as far as practicable, in their national Covid-19 vaccination programs (taking into account the WHO SAGE Roadmap).

Proper consideration of extending Covid-19 vaccines to seafarers of other nationalities is also recommended, taking into account their national vaccine supply.

Member States are also recommended to consider exempting seafarers from any national policy requiring proof of Covid-19 vaccination as a condition for entry, taking into account that seafarers should be designated as ʺkey workersʺ, as they travel across borders frequently.

They should also develop appropriate plans, where feasible, to provide the necessary infrastructure and facilities to support the Covid-19 vaccination of seafarers. Given the limited time ships are in port, single-dose Covid-19 vaccines for seafarers would be preferable.

The resolution recognizes the need to protect seafarers through vaccination, as soon as possible, to facilitate their safe movement across borders; while also noting the limited and highly uneven access to vaccines around the world, and highlights the importance of cooperation among the countries.

The resolution also invites the Member States, international organizations, shipping companies, and other stakeholders to inform seafarers about the safety and possible benefits of the vaccination, bearing in mind that taking the vaccination is a decision made on an individual basis.