Singapore has unveiled plans for an aggressive vaccination blitz for frontline maritime workers that aims to put some 10,000 needles in arms by the end of the month.
The COVID-19 vaccination strategy is meant to protect frontline personnel and their family members, as well as residents living in Singapore, from the raging coronavirus pandemic.
The Under the Sea – Air Vaccination Exercise (SAVE) seeks to vaccinate over 10,000 maritime personnel – including port workers, harbor pilots, cargo officers, marine surveyors and marine superintendents – by the end of January. So far more than 700 personnel have been vaccinated in the lead up to full roll-out of the program. The Maritime Port Authority of Singapore has received about 6,000 registrations from maritime personnel so far this week.
“We rely on our frontline maritime personnel for the transportation of what we need everyday, including food, medical supplies, and consumer goods,” said Quah Ley Hoon, Chief Executive of the MPA. “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.”
To facilitate the effort a vaccination center for maritime personnel has been set up Raffles City Convention Centre.
“The vaccination keeps me safe and enables me to do my job with less worry. It’s one more layer of protection, not just for me but for my fellow harbour pilots and my family,” said 55-year-old PSA Marine harbor pilot, Loh Kah Wai, reportedly the first maritime worker to be vaccinated under the program.
Singapore’s strategy comes as London-based International Chamber of Shipping today called on governments to prioritize seafarer vaccinations so global supply chains can operate smoothly.
New variants of Covid-19 in Brazil, South Africa and the U.K. have contributed to more stringent port and travel restrictions, limiting the ability of shipowners to repatriate hundreds of thousands of seafarers still stuck working on vessels past their contracts, according to the ICS.
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