On International Day of the Seafarer, the Cyprus Shipping Deputy Ministry (SDM) has issued a circular which outlines plans to provide COVID-19 vaccinations to all seafarers on Cyprus-flagged and Cyprus-managed vessels. The island nation is also exploring the potential to become a vaccination hub for all visiting seafarers, proactively supporting long-term progress for seafarer welfare.
As stipulated in a Circular that was issued today by SDM, vaccines will be administered by qualified medical staff to all seafarers working on board Cyprus-flagged ships, irrespective of the location of the vessel, and certificates provided. Vaccines will also be available to all seafarers serving on board vessels calling at Cypriot ports, regardless of flag, with close ties to Cyprus – such as ships managed by companies based in the country. In addition, Cyprus is exploring the possibility of becoming a vaccination hub. This relies upon a proportion of surplus vaccines from other countries being made available for seafarers.
Since the emergence of the pandemic, Cyprus has remained at the forefront of finding practical, global measures to support seafarers impacted by the crew change crisis. Cyprus was one of the first countries to recognize seafarers as key workers and implement a formal crew change process. These measures have resulted in over 20,000 seafarers being repatriated or able to return to work since May 2020.
Cyprus then presented a proposal for a global seafarers vaccination program to the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) Secretary-General, the International Chamber of Shipping, the International Transport Federation and the European Union. This was developed into a formal resolution that has been officially adopted by the International Labour Organization (ILO).
Vassilios Demetriades, Cyprus Shipping Deputy Minister, explained:
“We remain committed to finding a realistic approach to a global seafarer vaccination programme. This responsibility starts at a national level, which is why we are providing vaccines to all seafarers on Cyprus-flagged and Cyprus-managed vessels.
“We continue to prioritize seafarer welfare and support a practical and coordinated solution to the ongoing crew change challenge. We would also like to further explore, in cooperation with the global shipping community, the possibility of becoming a vaccination hub for seafarers. This will require collaboration with other nations and organizations to pool spare vaccines, and we are in active conversations to progress the potential of this idea.
“Global trade must keep moving – the world relies upon it. And as we celebrate the International Day of the Seafarer this week, I cannot think of a better tribute to them than continuing progress to ensure that all our seafarers have access to COVID-19 vaccinations as soon as possible.”