The Singapore Shipping Association (SSA), in collaboration with PSA and the Fullerton Health Group (FHG), has set up a seafarers’ vaccination (SEAVAX) centre in Singapore. This SSA-led initiative is supported by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) with funding from the Singapore Shipping Tripartite Resilience (SG-STAR) Fund.
The SG-STAR fund was established by MPA and SSA alongside seafarers’ unions the Singapore Maritime Officers’ Union (SMOU) and the Singapore Organisation of Seamen (SOS). In late 2020, the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) and the International Maritime Employers’ Council (IMEC) joined the effort by contributing together US$500,000 to grow the SG-STAR fund to US$1.2 million for use on projects to uphold crew welfare and safety through the pandemic.
Now the fund will be supporting a pilot programme to offer vaccination to ocean-going seafarers undertaking crew change in the port of Singapore. The centre, operational from 30 September, will administer vaccines to seafarers, starting with signing-on crew arriving in Singapore and joining vessels on the same day of their vaccination.
Participation in the vaccination programme is on a voluntary basis. Companies and seafarers will need to submit their applications, seven days before the crew arrives in Singapore. This is to ensure compliance with the prevailing crew change protocols and vaccine arrangements.
Mr Michael Phoon, Executive Director of SSA said, “Seafarers are key maritime frontline workers and the backbone of international shipping. The SSA is pleased to be leading this tripartite initiative to help seafarers get the protection they need against the COVID-19 virus. We hope the experience with this pilot vaccination program will facilitate the scale-up of vaccinations for the wider seafaring community.”
Captain Belal Ahmed, Chairman of the International Maritime Employers’ Council (IMEC) said, “This is an important step forward by both the local government and the shipping industry and it will go a long way in re-establishing Singapore’s leadership role in the fight against the pandemic and the protection of seafarers’ health and safeguarding of the global logistic chain. IMEC is proud to be a partner in this Tripartite cooperation and will continue to do so in future.”
Stephen Cotton, General Secretary of the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) said, “This is a ground-breaking move by the Singaporean port authorities, seafarers’ unions and local shipping industry. Singapore has worked out that for any country to succeed in a globalised economy, particularly as a transport hub, you’ve got to be part of global solutions, national approaches won’t work. We need to see more countries look to Singapore’s leadership for the way forward. Follow Singapore, and let’s bring on the recovery we all need.”