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Will employers support mandatory COVID-19 vaccines?


They should if operation disruptions have cost them enough

Mixed opinions about seafarers getting vaccinated saturated the web. While no individual should be compelled to get jabbed, there will be liabilities if an unvaccinated crew falls ill. The final destination might just be unemployment.

Jab or no job
At the recent conferences held during the London International Shipping Week, industry representatives noted an estimated 25 per cent of the world’s 1.4 million crew were vaccinated. Some 30 per cent remained reluctant. Meanwhile, the industry is rolling out vaccination programmes for seafarers regardless of nationality – supporting the cause to keep everyone safe. Yet, this would not guarantee opened borders across countries, except for minimising the risks against falling very ill when emergency medical assistance is either limited or inaccessible.

Capt Faouzi Fradi, Director of Crewing Operations for Columbia Ship Management, stressed: “Although vaccinating all seafarers may not open borders worldwide, they offer a degree of protection against falling very ill, and crew health is the most important consideration. If somebody falls ill on a ship with fully-vaccinated crew, the likelihood of lighter symptoms meant ships could continue operations.

Incentivising vaccinations
Capt Fradi added, “These reduce the risks of seafarers being forced to disembark and be replaced; an added incentive to support vaccination. Seafarers know that if there is an outbreak onboard, they are not going to lose their jobs and have to go back home.” Capt Fradi concluded there is a cost from all operation disruptions; which provides no reason to undermine seafarers’ health.

Theofilos Xenakoudis from Marshall Islands flag registry’s asserted, “The whole vaccination discussion is a very delicate issue. It is not easy to put a person in this dilemma: keep or lose your job, depending on the vaccine. We would have a less destructive travel, social and business environment if everyone gets vaccinated. However, I do not see governments offering incentives for seafarers’ vaccination. It would be cost-effective for shipping companies, and save lives. I will definitely mull over incentives for the vaccinated seafarers versus the non-vaccinated, and that is what the regulators should think about.”


Crewing Online News Team
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