Key maritime organisations have asked the UK government to treat seafarers as a priority group for vaccination against Covid-19.
Nautilus International, the UK Chamber of Shipping (UKCS) and the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) made the request in a letter to secretary of state Matt Hancock following news that the vaccine is now to be distributed.
The letter highlights the hard work done by seafarers to keep the country functioning during the Covid-19 crisis, and the additional strain placed upon them and their families by restrictions aimed at controlling the spread of the virus.
'In our view, vaccination at the earliest opportunity is necessary to minimise the infection risk and to alleviate the pressure on seafarers and their families,' the letter says.
'We are encouraged to note that the UN General Assembly has now followed the UK Government's lead and is calling on all governments to designate seafarers as key workers. It would be entirely logical for the Government to maintain that leadership and designate seafarers among the priority groups for vaccination, in order that they may undertake their vital work on behalf of the country in greater safety.'
The full text of the letter is reproduced below.