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Singapore plans to vaccinate 10,000 maritime workers this month

The busy port, among the first to recognise seafarers as key workers, is moving quickly to protect its vital shore-based maritime services staff. Vaccinated workers will be subject to a more relaxed mandatory testing regime

The port, which is also the world’s top bunkering centre, suffered an outbreak of coronavirus on one of its bunker tankers earlier in January. MPA said harbourcraft and ocean-going crew who are Singaporeans and long-term residents will be given priority for vaccinations

SINGAPORE is taking the lead to vaccinate front-line maritime personnel, announcing a plan to offer coronavirus vaccinations to more than 10,000 workers by the end of January.

The priority vaccination exercise is part of the national vaccination strategy to protect front-line personnel, who go on board vessels at the port and amid the coronavirus pandemic, come in contact with people from outside the country. Singapore is among 45 countries to have recognised seafarers as key workers.

Singapore reported an outbreak of the coronavirus on a bunker tanker working in the port earlier this month.

Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore chief executive Quah Ley Hoon highlighted the key role of front-line maritime personnel in the transportation of daily necessities, including food, medical supplies and consumer goods.

“We hope that the vaccination can give them peace of mind when they perform their work on board ships,” she said.

These front-line personnel include port workers, harbour pilots, cargo officers, marine surveyors and marine superintendents who work on board ships carrying out essential work including safe navigation, refuelling, ship repair and maintenance, as well as operations to transfer cargos.

In addition, harbourcraft and ocean-going crew who are Singaporeans and long-term residents have been prioritised for vaccination.

“We are thankful that our local seafarers are offered this opportunity to get vaccinated early,” said Singapore Maritime Officers’ Union general secretary Mary Liew.

She highlighted the role of seafarers as key workers and the essential role they play in ensuring that the supply of goods is undisrupted globally.

MPA said more than 700 personnel have been vaccinated during the past few days to prepare for the full roll-out of the programme and it has received about 6,000 registrations for vaccination this week. 

As an added bonus of the voluntary programme, personnel who have completed their full course of vaccination will be subjected to fewer testing requirements, with those currently on the seven-day Rostered Routine Testing regime being tested every 14 days and those on the 14-day regime being tested once a month in future. 

“The Singapore Shipping Association welcomes this mass vaccination for maritime personnel who need to board vessels for their work,” said SSA president Caroline Yang.

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