- Seafarers come mainly from five countries, some of which have not been able to obtain enough WHO-approved vaccines.
- Some sailors have started to be vaccinated with WHO-approved vaccines even though they have already been vaccinated.
- The Omicron variant is expected to add new complications as governments tighten travel restrictions.
Some sailors are getting vaccinated multiple times in an attempt to comply with the various COVID-19 regulations at various ports as challenges persist for the men and women who work at sea.
âSeafarer travel remains difficult as there are issues with the recognition and approval of vaccines for international travel,â the World Maritime Forum said in a recent report. “This has even led some sailors to be vaccinated several times, with an unknown health risk,” added the nonprofit association.
The situation arose because some vaccines – like Russia’s Sputnik V – are still under evaluation by the World Health Organization and are not on its approved list. Other regulatory regimes, such as the European Medicines Agency, also have their own lists of approved vaccines.
Most of the world’s seafarers come from five countries: China, the Philippines, Indonesia, the Russian Federation and Ukraine. Some of these countries have not been able to obtain enough WHO-approved vaccines. As a result, some seafarers began to be vaccinated with WHO-approved vaccines even though they had already been inoculated with non-WHO-approved vaccines – just to be able to work on vessels in other parts of the world. world.
Stephen Cotton, general secretary of the International Transport Workers’ Federation, said it was “totally unacceptable” that seafarers had to receive multiple vaccines to do their jobs, Seatrade Maritime reported.
Problems with vaccine recognition are among multiple issues in the shipping industry, including vaccine reluctance and supply issues in some locations, the World Maritime Forum said in its report. In the coming months, accessing booster shots is likely to become a new challenge, he added.
The emergence of the new Omicron variant has thrown another key into the works, with further complications for shipping routes expected as governments tighten travel restrictions and other virus containment measures.
Restrictions have already taken effect at major crew change centers, where sailors switch to take a break after grueling four to six months at sea.
Singapore on Thursday suspended crew changes for those who have recently traveled to seven African countries, including South Africa, the country’s Maritime and Port Authority said in a circular. Hong Kong has imposed similar restrictions on 44 countries on its high-risk list.
This stems from the fact that China has imposed quarantines of up to seven weeks on returning sailors and banned crew changes – a move that is rippling through the already strained global supply chain.
“We are preparing for the impact and fastening our seat belts. We expect a longer quarantine period, a stricter testing regime and restrictions for ships arriving from South Africa and countries neighbors, âCarl Schou, president and CEO of Wilhelmsen Ship Management told Splash247. commercial media.