Shipping Group Says Seafarers Should Receive Vaccine Priority

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Governments should prioritize seafarer vaccinations against Covid-19 to help keep global supply chains operating smoothly, according to the International Chamber of Shipping.

New variants of Covid-19 in Brazil, South Africa and the U.K. have contributed to more stringent port and travel restrictions, limiting the ability of shipowners to repatriate hundreds of thousands of seafarers still stuck working on vessels past their contracts, according to the ICS, a trade association that represents more than 80% of the world’s merchant fleet.

“Vaccinated seafarers are critical in keeping nations supplied with vital goods,” the London-based ICS said in the statement Tuesday. “Increasingly in 2021, this will include medical supplies such as syringes and the personal protective equipment required as part of the roll out of Covid-19 vaccines.”

Ship crews are often comprised of seafarers from many different countries, making vaccinating by nationality a challenge, according to the ICS, which recommends mariners are given clear “vaccine passport” protocols in line with World Health Organization recommendations.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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