Apart from vaccine shortage, there is also a group of seafarers undecided on the jabs
At the recent Sea Asia Virtual session, various maritime experts discussed the challenge of seafarers unwilling to be vaccinated.
Making it a mandate
Dennis Svane Hansen of Group Crewing Services from BW Group said its vaccination programme started with a survey. It revealed 5 per cent of respondents were unwilling to be vaccinated, and 10 per cent were unsure. Hansen added, “We also asked if they were willing to take the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, which is the one we are providing. We had 10 per cent unwilling and 20 per cent undecided.”
The root cause of the reservations is side effects and dangers. News about people passing after the jab dominated the media. In Singapore, there were reported cases of vaccinated people getting re-infected. This left BW Group no options but to formulate policies and guidelines about vaccines to be disseminated to vessels.
Emily Tan, Head of Crewing from Norstar Ship Management, said they were working with agents in India and the Philippines on procuring vaccinations for those willing to be vaccinated. Norstar is also encouraging seafarers in Myanmar to get vaccinated. Tan added the vaccination had been made a mandate in pre-joining procedures.
Vaccination programmes have challenges
Natalie Shaw, Director of Employment Affairs from International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), said the body was working at multiple ports to encourage port state vaccination programmes – similar to that practised in the US. There were progress in the Netherlands and Denmark. However, such initiatives were not exempted from regulatory challenges.
Shaw quoted the example of the UK’s commitment to prioritise seafarers once the country had worked down through its target age categories. Unfortunately, the age group policy lengthened the queue in front of seafarers. She added a concerning part: when airlines impose a regulation that only allows vaccinated people to travel, which can make it more challenging to facilitate seafarers’ repatriation.
Marine Online News Team
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