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Government urged to prioritise vaccination of seafarers, dockworkers against COVID-19

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seafarers. Photo: BULK

The Federal Government has been urged to prioritise access to COVID-19 vaccination for Nigerian seafarers and dockworkers.

Spokesman of the Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN), Dr. Bolaji Akinola, in a statement said seafarers and port workers had been designated as essential workers by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).

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He said priority vaccination for these categories of maritime workers would ensure the sustenance of the logistics chain.

“Seafarers and dockworkers are under-recognised, under-publicized and unsung economic heroes despite their significant contributions to keeping our nation afloat during the economic dislocation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It is therefore imperative to ensure continuity of the maritime workforce through the continuous provision of protective health supplies, rapid testing supplies and priority access to vaccination.

“Ensuring priority access to COVID-19 vaccines to these critical maritime workers is vital to keeping the supply chain active. If our seafarers and port workers are unprotected, the supply chain will become vulnerable,” Akinola said.

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The STOAN spokesman also said that contrary to insinuations in certain quarters, Nigeria has abundant logistics capacity to transport and store the COVID-19 vaccines at the required temperature.

“We have abundant refrigerated containers, also called reefer containers, for the transportation and temporary storage of temperature-sensitive cargo including vaccines.

“These refrigerated containers are capable of controlling temperature ranging from -65 °C up to 40 °C. Reefer containers allow the transportation of cargo in a way that preserves its freshness and efficacy all year round,” he added.

Recently, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said a total of 16 million AstraZeneca doses of COVID-19 vaccines out of the 88 million allocated to Africa will soon arrive in Nigeria.

WHO said it was supporting all countries to access vaccines as quickly as possible.

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