Prioritising vaccines for seafarers

Members Corner

Source: Höegh Autoliners, 2021-08-10

With travel and quarantine restrictions imposed to stop the spread of COVID-19, many seafarers have been stranded on vessels, working beyond their contracts. To raise awareness of the crew change crisis, Höegh Autoliners together with 800 organisations signed the Neptune Declaration on Seafarer Wellbeing, which calls on government bodies to recognise seafarers as key workers and give them priority access to Covid-19 vaccines.

Sebjørn Dahl, Chief Operations Officer says ''throughout the pandemic, seafarers have suffered greatly. Essentially stranded on board the vessels, they have been unable to disembark during port stays and many have had to stay on board beyond their original contract. Their hard work and dedication ensure goods are delivered around the world during challenging times. Prioritising vaccines for seafarers is vital to ease the crew change crisis and enable seafarers to return home to their loved ones.''

The World Health Organisation has recommended seafarers be among transport workers given priority for vaccines if supplies are low. The United Nations body has updated its vaccine roadmap guidance for governments, with special mention for seafarers stranded at sea by the crewing crisis. 

The last months have shown great progress. Local seafarers’ welfare organisations in ports around the United States and other countries are facilitating vaccines for foreign seafarers. Health officials board the vessel to vaccinate crew in port, and in other places seafarers are offered vaccines by local health providers.  

Sebjørn continues, ''maintaining the safety and wellbeing of our people continues to be a top priority in Höegh. With the increased accessibility of vaccinations for our seafarers we can maintain a safer working environment and uphold our commitment to safety, quality, and operational excellence.''

Höegh Autoliners follows the local situation closely and keeps vessels updated on any new developments on the vaccination rollout.

Sebjørn concludes, ''vaccinations are an important step in restoring a level of normality post COVID-19, however we must remain vigilant. We also encourage seafarers and colleagues to continue to follow our stringent health and safety protocols, even after having the vaccine.''

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