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Singapore extends programme to vaccinate foreign seafarers

City state is making available at least 12,000 doses for international seafarers in the next phase of its crew vaccination initiative

Singapore started vaccinating non-resident seafarers in August with the next phase of the scheme taking effect from November 15 and running through to June 30 next year

MORE than 8,000 foreign seafarers have received at least one vaccination dose in Singapore as part of the country’s pledge to support the global vaccination of all seafarers.

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore and the Singapore Shipping Association said 5,200 resident crew working in harbour waters and 2,800 non-resident crew foreign crew working on board vessels have beenv accinated.

Another 12,000 crew members are expected to receive their first or second dose, or booster shot, in Singapore between now and June 30 next year under the sea crew vaccination initiative, according to a statement.

“As a hub port and international maritime centre, Singapore is glad to do our part in vaccinating seafarers and facilitating crew changes,” said senior minister of state for transport Chee Hong Tat. “Singapore is ready to provide more vaccines beyond the 12,000 doses if there is further demand from the shipping lines and seafarers.”

Singapore started vaccinating non-resident seafarers in August, and the next phase of the scheme took effect from November 15 and runs through June 30 next year. It has already fully vaccinated 37,800 frontline and essential maritime personnel.

International seafarers can be vaccinated with one dose of Moderna either while undertaking crew change in Singapore or when their vessels call at the port. The vaccine is available as first, second and booster shots with costs fully borne by the industry.

Inoculation efforts in countries such as the US and Belgium have been focused on the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine, since seafarers are unlikely to stay in the same place for long enough to have two doses.

International Maritime Organization secretary-general Kitack Lim said vaccine initiatives will contribute to solving the crew change crisis.

“I am heartened to hear of the extension of the programme to make available at least 12,000 vaccine doses to vaccinate sea crew on board ocean-going vessels calling at Singapore and signing on to ships in Singapore,” he said.

The vaccination programme is undertaken by the Shipping Tripartite Alliance Resilience Taskforce, an international alliance led by the Singapore Shipping Association.

Singapore’s crew change programme is on track to have facilitated 200,000 crew exchanges by the end of the year.

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