- Vaccinations for sailors are being considered by ship management, owners, and flag states.
Ship managers, owners, and flag states are considering compulsory vaccinations for seafarers once global rollouts have given all crew the opportunity to be jabbed against coronavirus, reports an article published in The Lloyd’s List.
An estimated 25% of the world’s 1.4m crew have been vaccinated while about a third are reluctant, industry representatives told two conferences in London for London International Shipping Week. The rollout for seafarers has been slow-going and complicated, in part because most are from countries with low vaccination rates or limited vaccine availability, including India and the Philippines.
The request for mandatory vaccination emerged amid growing worry that shipowners and crew management would be unable to offer emergency medical care and basic treatment to seafarers due to stringent quarantine and immigration regulations. When seamen were ill in Asia, some countries prohibited them from seeking life-saving treatment. Theofilos Xenakoudis, director of commercial operations for the Marshall Islands flag registration, noted that vaccinated seafarers are not treated differently in Japan, China, the United States, Singapore, Australia, and New Zealand.
“Things have changed a lot, and things are happening very fast and each month is different,” said Capt Faouzi Fradi, director of crewing operations for Columbia Ship Management, on the rapid introduction of fresh measures at ports.
Repatriating Chinese nationals has become a problem, as they require codes from the embassy to return. China and the Far East were difficult to organize crew transfers, according to Capt Fradi, although Europe had considerably improved in comparison. “The whole event was full of shocks like you are living in a horror movie. You don’t know when it will end,” said one crew member who became unwell while on board.
“The whole vaccination discussion is a very delicate issue,” said Mr. Xenakoudis. “It is not easy to put a person in this dilemma: Keep your job or lose your job, depending on the vaccine.”
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Source: Lloyd’s List