Sun. Jan 29th, 2023
See question(s) : P-000813/2021
Answer given by Ms Kyriakides
on behalf of the European Commission

The Commission Communication of 15 October 2020 on preparedness for COVID-19 vaccination strategies and vaccine deployment1 lists transportation workers as a possible priority group to be considered by Member States for vaccination against COVID-19.

It is however important to note that, in line with Article 168 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU, the responsibility for organising and delivering health services and medical care, including vaccinations strategies and services, lies with the Member States. Each Member State is therefore responsible for the deployment of COVID-19 vaccines and for defining priority groups for vaccination.

The Commissioner for Transport raised the topic of seafarer vaccinations and the challenges linked to it during the informal videoconference of transport ministers in December 2020. Several Member States have confirmed that they plan to vaccinate their seafarers with priority.

Many seafarers, including those working on EU-flagged merchant vessels, are from low or middle-income third countries. Seafarers also spend most of the time on the high seas and without access to shore-side health care. This poses challenges for their vaccination. The Commission is in close contact with stakeholders and the relevant United Nations agencies2 to ensure a coordinated international approach to this issue.

Together with international social partners, they are working on vaccination schemes for crews that would be paid for by the shipping industry. These efforts are in an early phase, with little clarity on how to procure vaccine doses or organise logistics. Speedy access to vaccinations will be crucial to avoid exacerbating the ongoing crew change crisis as well as ensuring seafarer mobility and safety.

2 Especially the International Labour Organization and International Maritime Organization, along with the World Health Organization.

Source: Answer to a written question – Seafarers as a priority group for vaccination against the COVID-19 virus – P-000813/2021(ASW)

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