The leaders of five United Nations organisations have urged member states to prioritise maritime and air transport workers for Covid-19 vaccination.

The call was made in a joint statement based on workers in the two sectors’ role in “supporting global trade and mobility, which is essential for a sustainable socio-economic recovery”.

The statement has been signed by the secretaries-general of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the directors-general of the International Labour Organization (ILO), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

The organisations’ heads said: “For shipping and air transport to continue to operate safely, the safe cross-border movement of seafarers and aircrew must be facilitated.

“We reiterate our call upon countries that have not done so to designate seafarers and aircrew as key workers.”

They added: “Seafarers and aircrew need to be protected through vaccination as soon as possible, to facilitate their safe movement across borders.

“We also call on governments to identify and prepare for the challenges of Covid-19 vaccination of seafarers and aircrew, particularly for seafarers spending long periods of time away from their home country.”

The statement noted the WHO continues to recommend that countries should not impose proof of vaccination as a condition of entry due to the limited supply of vaccines and the lack of clarity over their impact on the transmission of Covid-19.

However, it added: “The organisations state their full support for the timely development of an international harmonised framework for vaccination certificates, to facilitate international travel for seafarers and aircrew.”