Shipping needs to ensure seafarers are prioritised for Covid-19 vaccines

Photo: ITF stephencotton3 2.jpg
Stephen Cotton, ITF
The shipping industry needs to ensure that seafarers are among the essential workers that are first in line to receive a Covid-19 vaccine, say leading representatives.

With a number of vaccine trials now showing promising rates of success, the need for seafarers to be treated as essential workers and be among the first to receive vaccinations, was highlighted by speakers at the CrewConnect Global 2020 Virtual Event, organised by Informa Connect.

Stephen Cotton, general secretary of International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) said, “I think all the work we’ve done in lobbying governments now needs to be even more concerted effort about the point that seafarers are essential workers… we need  to find a way to find a way to access vaccines. And then a way to verify they have had that vaccine, they are who they say they are, that will then be globally accepted”

Despite the campaign by industry organisations and unions this year many countries still do not recognise seafarers as essential workers.

However, in some good news the world’s largest supplier of seafarers – the Philippines – is going to prioritise seafarers for Covid-19 vaccinations. Gerardo Borromeo, ceo of PTC Group, stated: “The Philippines the government is preparing to ensure seafarers are going to be included as part of the first wave of vaccinations as they are key to our society.”

The news was warmly welcome by International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) secretary general Guy Platten. “I am really pleased to hear about vaccinations in the Philippines, that’s huge step forward, and hopefully other countries will take that as an example, and I think that’s something as industry we should be shouting very loudly about.”

While vaccinations would solve the problems of Covid-19 for the shipping industry, in the meantime Andreas Nordseth, director general of the Danish Maritime Authority, said that “While waiting for the vaccination I think we need a safe and reliable quick test.”

He encouraged both Cotton and Platten when speaking with people in international forums of the need for a safe and reliable quick test for Covid-19.

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