IATA: Consider aviation workers essential for vaccination

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KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 16 — The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has renewed its call on governments to ensure that employees in the aviation sector are considered as essential workers during the impending COVID-19 vaccine campaign, once healthcare workers and vulnerable groups have been protected.

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In a statement, IATA director-general and chief executive officer Alexandre de Juniac said the transportation of the COVID-19 vaccines had already begun, which would require the equivalent of 8,000 Boeing 747 freighter aircraft for global distribution.

“It is therefore essential that we have the qualified workforce in place to ensure a functioning logistics chain.

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“We are not asking for aviation workers to be on top of the list, but we need governments to ensure that transportation workers are considered as essential when vaccine roll-out plans are developed,” he said.

IATA’s call is aligned with the proposed Roadmap for Prioritising Uses of COVID-19 Vaccines by the World Health Organisation’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunisation (SAGE), which recommends priority populations for vaccination based on the respective epidemiologic situation and vaccine supply scenarios.

Within this framework, SAGE has included transportation workers alongside other essential sectors outside health and education sectors including police.

The association also reiterated the vital role of air transport in facilitating the global response to the pandemic, including the timely distribution of medicines, testing kits, protective equipment and eventually vaccines around the world. – BERNAMA

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