CLARK FREEPORT -- The Department of Transportation (DOTr) said that seafarers are included in the Covid-19 vaccination priority list.

This, after the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) approved the recommendation of the DOTr to include them in the priority recipients listed in the government's national vaccination rollout.

DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade welcomed the development and cited the contribution of Filipino seamen in the country's economy.

"This is a very good development four our maritime industry champions, our seafarers. Now, our Filipino seafarers will be given priority to be vaccinated," Tugade said.

"Paulit-ulit ko pong inilalarawan ang ating maritime workforce bilang mga silent workers ng bayan. They work silently, yet their contribution is as crucial as keeping the economy thriving. Not only are they frontliners but they are undoubtedly heroes too," he added.

Seafarers are declared key workers globally and locally and shipping companies prefer their workforce to be vaccinated to ensure that their operations will remain smooth, unhampered, and somehow immune to the severe effects of Covid-19, the agency said.

From falling under B3 (other essential workers) or B5 (overseas Filipino workers) in the Vaccination Priority Framework, the Inter-Agency Working Group has requested for the reclasification of Filipino seafarers to A4 or frontline personnel in essential sectors, including uniformed personnel and those working in sectors identified by the IATF as essential during ECQ.

This made seafarers move at the top 4 priority groups to be vaccinated.

There are 730,651 Filipino seamen who are considered in the A4 category.