Over 8,000 foreign sea crew members get vaccine jabs in S'pore

More than 8,000 foreign sea crew members have received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine in Singapore, as part of the country's pledge to support the global vaccination of all seafarers.

The figure comprises 5,200 foreign sea crew members living here and 2,860 non-resident foreign sea crew members working on board vessels like cruise ships and regional ferries.

They received their jabs from April this year, said the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) and the Singapore Shipping Association (SSA) jointly with international partners on Monday.

Another 12,000 crew members are expected to get their first dose, second dose or booster shot here between now and June 30 next year.

Senior Minister of State for Transport Chee Hong Tat said Singapore is ready to provide more vaccines beyond the 12,000 Moderna shots lined up if there is further demand from shipping lines and seafarers.

The cost of jabbing the foreign sea crew is fully borne by the industry, and the vaccines used will be separate from the national stockpile, he said previously.

"As a hub port and international maritime centre, Singapore is glad to do our part in vaccinating seafarers and facilitating crew changes. These are key to protect the health and well-being of seafarers on board vessels and to safeguard global supply chains," he said.

The foreign sea crew were vaccinated under the Sea-Air Vaccination Exercise (Save) and the Sea Crew Vaccination (Seavax) initiative that began in April and August, respectively.

Under Save, resident foreign sea crew working on local vessels out of Singapore's port are vaccinated, while non-resident foreign sea crew who are usually here temporarily are jabbed under Seavax.

The vaccination effort is undertaken by the Shipping Tripartite Alliance Resilience (Star) Taskforce.

This international tripartite alliance led by the SSA includes the MPA, the Singapore Maritime Officers' Union, the Singapore Organisation of Seamen, the International Transport Workers' Federation, and the International Maritime Employers' Council.

Mr Kitack Lim, secretary-general of the International Maritime Organisation, said the Seavax initiative, in addition to Singapore's continued efforts to facilitate crew changes, gives him confidence that the industry will be able to ride out the Covid-19 crisis.

Until vaccinations and crew change protocols were rolled out, many sea crews had been stuck at sea, forced to work beyond their contract duration and unable to go ashore.

Since March last year, Singapore has facilitated close to 190,000 crew changes, a figure that should reach 200,000 by the year end.

To aid this process, the Star Taskforce has also accredited more than 30 quarantine, medical and testing facilities for sea crew here, as well as in various nations including the Philippines, India and Malaysia.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 17, 2021, with the headline 'Over 8,000 foreign sea crew members get vaccine jabs in S'pore'. Subscribe