Singapore to vaccinate over 10,000 frontline maritime workers by end of month

20 January 2021 By Jason Jiang

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Singapore will deliver Covid-19 vaccinations to over 10,000 maritime personnel by the end of January under its Sea – Air Vaccination Exercise (SAVE). The exercise is part of the country’s national Covid-19 vaccination strategy to protect frontline personnel and their family members, as well as residents living in Singapore.

​These frontline personnel include port workers, harbour pilots, cargo officers, marine surveyors and marine superintendents who are required to work onboard ships in Singapore.

According to the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA), more than 700 personnel have been vaccinated over the past few days to prepare for the full roll-out of SAVE. The MPA has received about 6,000 registrations for vaccination this week.

Due to the better protection offered by vaccination, frontline maritime personnel who have completed their full course of vaccinations will be subjected to fewer testing requirements.

Going forward, those who are currently on the seven-day rostered routine testing (RRT) will be tested every 14 days and those who are currently on the 14-day RRT will be tested once a month.

“We rely on our frontline maritime personnel for the transportation of what we need everyday, including food, medical supplies, and consumer goods. We hope that the vaccination can give them peace of mind when they perform their work onboard ships. This will provide an additional layer of protection, and keep their family and the community safe. We strongly encourage them to come forward for early vaccination,” said Quah Ley Hoon, chief executive of MPA.

With Singapore taking the lead, the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) is now leading calls for other governments to put seafarers and frontline maritime shore workers at the head of the vaccine queue and to designate seafarers as keyworkers, to avoid a repeat of the 2020 crew change crisis.

“Priority access to vaccines for all seafarers, and clear ‘vaccine passport’ protocols in line with World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations, is seen as vital to the maintenance of global trade,” the ICS stated in a release today.

Guy Platten, secretary general of the ICS, commented: “The benefits of vaccinating those responsible for transporting the vaccine and PPE around the world should be obvious. Governments must class seafarers as key workers and give them priority access to the vaccine, as the inability to rotate crews from their ships risks the passage of the critical medical materials needed for the global vaccination effort.

“If we want to maintain global trade, seafarers must not be put to the back of the vaccine queue. Governments will not be able to inject their citizens without the shipping industry or, most importantly, our seafarers.”

Source: Splash 24/