More than 5,000 seafarers got vaccinated as a proactive measure by the Cyprus Government. The Government took the initiative to offer Covid-19 vaccines to entire crews of ships that have the Cypriot flag on mast, are porting on the country’s ports, and running any Cyprus-managed ships. The information was confirmed by deputy shipping minister Vassilis Demetriades.
He stated that Cyprus is exploring the possibilities of transforming itself as an active vaccination hub for all seafarers. The deputy minister also added that the vaccination process of all ship crews is a part of the crucial vaccination drive by the Cyprus Government. The drive aims to cover the vaccination of 40,000 seafarers. The programme began at the start of July this year, and so far, over 5,000 crew members have been vaccinated.
The owners of ships and vessels can request the number of vaccines for all staff members who wish to be vaccinated. The vaccination jabs are evaluated and supervised by the Ministry of Health Administration in Cyprus. Demetriades stated that the vaccines Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca were offered to the crews.
The deputy minister also presented the government’s proposal to organise the vaccination of crews with vaccines donated from other states. The International Labour Organization (ILO) officially adopted the proposal in a formal resolution last April.
Demetriades did mention that the task of vaccinating such a large population is not easy, and it requires coordination among several states and the political will among states to donate their unused vaccines to seafarers. As such, the initiative requires the shipowners’ and seafarers’ organisations to actively contribute to a widely mapping exercise that will help the Cyprus Government to identify the vaccination count for the seafarers ashore. It also needs a collaborative effort by all to secure the vaccination count that is identified in the strategic mapping exercise.
The deputy minister stated that Cyprus has been a forefront country to recognise seafarers as active frontline workers even since the COVID-19 pandemic broke out. The country has implemented a quick crew change initiative to the entire process. The minister further added that “the vaccination drive has resulted in more than 20,000 seafarers being either sent home or are able to join work since May 2020”.
The good vaccination initiative by the Cyprus Government has earned the shipping ministry a nomination for the Safety4Sea Covid-19 Resilience Award. This award will be felicitated to any organisation or association that created and implemented an action plan to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic crisis.
The Cyprus ministry earned a nomination “for implementing considerable action to resolve the crew change crisis during the pandemic”. The Safety4Sea Covid-19 Resilience Award will foster safe and sustainable shipping practices around the world. It will also include the general public as the deciders as they are invited to vote and choose the winners. The announcement of winners will occur in a virtual ceremony on October 20, 2021.