Vaccination has been the way forward towards recovery, but seafarers have not had it easy, especially with access to vaccines. Working on board ships on long contracts has kept many of them away from vaccination programmes in their home countries.
Singapore’s Sea Crew Vaccination (SEAVAX) initiative, led by Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA), Singapore Shipping Association (SSA), progressed into its second phase to offer inoculation of seafarers signing on ship in Singapore on 30 September 2021.
On 15 November 2021, seafarers from three companies – Pacific International Lines, M.T.M. Ship Management, and Pacific Carriers Limited – received vaccination under phase 2 of the SEAVAX initiative at the Tanjong Pagar Terminal Workshop. The milestone was witnessed by Tripartite partners from the MPA, SSA, SMOU, and Singapore Organisation of Seamen (SOS), including Senior Minister of State for Transport and Deputy Secretary-General of NTUC, Mr Chee Hong Tat.
Amongst the seafarers who were receiving the vaccine was Chief Engineer Aung Than Htay from Pacific International Lines (PIL). When he heard that he was able to get vaccinated at the Singapore Port, he was excited. “I am more confident and I feel safer going on board the ship,” he told SeaVoices, adding that he will encourage his seafaring friends to go for vaccinations as vaccination programmes like SEAVAX continue to be rolled out.
Kyaw Soe Thu, a 4th Engineer with PIL also said that he was very glad to be receiving this vaccination. “I can be protected from COVID-19 and minimise spread to others. Many thanks to the organisers of this vaccination programme,” he said expressing his gratitude.
SMOU General Secretary Ms Mary Liew said, “SMOU is glad to be working with our tripartite partners to progress the SEAVAX initiative into its next phase, extending vaccination to international seafarers calling at the port of Singapore. It is important for Singapore as an International Maritime Hub to protect our key maritime workers as they work on board ships to keep the global supply chain moving. SMOU will continue to collaborate with tripartite partners to safeguard the welfare of seafarers so that they can fulfil their roles with a peace of mind, and return home safely and timely to their loved ones. This is a positive way forward to see our maritime industry recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, and we thank MPA and SSA for their strong support.”
The vaccination exercise will continue to be undertaken by the Shipping Tripartite Alliance Resilience (STAR) Taskforce and is possible with the support of tripartite partners, the International Transport Workers’ Federation, the International Maritime Employers’ Council (IMEC), and the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS).
SMOU appreciates the support from SMS & DSG Brother Chee Hong Tat, MPA CE Sister Quah Ley Hoon, and SSA President Sister Caroline Yang, for making the vaccination exercise possible. With Singapore joining in global efforts to vaccinate seafarers, we hope that our key workers will feel safer and be able to work on board ships with a peace of mind.