International vaccine acceptance is essential to sustain world supply chains
It was heartening to know more seafarers were vaccinated as per the latest Neptune Declaration Crew Change Indicator. However, the difference in vaccines administered despite all were World Health Organisation (WHO) approved remains a big hindrance to world trade.
Facilitating smoother operations
While the Indicator reflected significant rise in seafarers’ inoculation, there was a twist. Seafarers vaccinated with China’s Sinovac or India’s Covishield vaccines (both WHO-approved), would not be considered fully-vaccinated by European countries or operators. Similarly, those vaccinated with WHO-approved Moderna or Pfizer vaccines, will not be considered fully vaccinated in China. Seafarers’ wound up taking more shots with other types to facilitate work. WHO currently recognises 7 different COVID-19 vaccines, yet these vaccines remain not globally accepted.
Kasper Søgaard, Managing Director, Head of Institutional Strategy and Development from Global Maritime Forum said, “We urgently need a shared global vaccine standard for seafarers. For instance, by reaching an agreement which ensures that seafarers inoculated with a WHO-approved vaccine are accepted as fully vaccinated internationally, by ports, shipowners, and charterers. Lastly, seafarers to be globally recognised as key workers, as called for by the Neptune Declaration – issued and signed by more than 850 companies from across the maritime industry earlier this year.”
According to Baltic and International Maritime Council (BIMCO), 65 out of 174 IMO-member countries have since designated seafarers as key workers. This is great progress achieved through close collaboration between governments and the global maritime industry. However, the maritime forum felt the key worker status had to be applied fully as a global standard in order to allow seafarers to travel safely without quarantines and delays, when boarding or disembarking. Seafarers needed to be able to safely disembark when they needed to, be it for crew change, treatment at a hospital or getting a vaccine shot.
Seafarers need to be recognised as the important key workers and be treated with priority access to globally approved vaccines in more ports worldwide. Without seafarers there is no global trade, so we need to keep pushing for all governments to treat seafarers as key workers, to keep both our seafarers and global supply chains safe.
Crewing Online News Team
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