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Cyprus allows vaccinations of seafarers onboard its flagged and managed vessels

Vassilios Demetriades, Cyprus Shipping Deputy Minister. Image: Cyprus Shipping Deputy Ministry

Cyprus is reviewing its plans to provide Covid-19 vaccination for seafarers onboard its flagged and managed vessels, which are currently being offered on a ‘first come first serve basis’.

The Cyprus Shipping Deputy Ministry (SDM) has issued Circular 32 (29 July), an update to one it previously issued on the Day of the Seafarer, outlining plans to provide Covid-19 vaccinations to all visiting seafarers on Cyprus-flagged and Cyprus-managed vessels.

The island nation had also been exploring the potential to become a vaccination hub for all visiting seafarers, proactively supporting long-term progress for seafarer welfare, but indicated this would rely on surplus vaccines becoming available from other countries.

In Circular 32 the SDM said: ‘Cyprus has decided to make, as from 1 July 2021, a number of vaccines against the Covid-19 virus available on a first come first serve basis, as long as the stock last, to those seafarers serving on board ships which: (1) are flying the flag of Cyprus (2) are managed by a legal entity based and taxed in Cyprus, if the ship in question calls at a Cyprus port, anchorages or roadstead located with the territory of Cyprus.’

The present intention is ‘to review the utilization of vaccines on offer and the availability of vaccines in stock at the end of August 2021, and, if it is justified, to revise the offer during September 2021,’ said the SDM.

Vaccination should be offered to all seafarers serving on board on a non-discriminatory basis, and this includes seafarers who are scheduled to be repatriated, said the SDM.

The latest circular is an update to the previous circular announced on 25 June – International Day of the Seafarer – when the SDM first outlined plans to provide Covid-19 vaccinations to all seafarers on Cyprus-flagged and Cyprus-managed vessels.

At the time 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 organisations to pool spare vaccines, and we are in active conversations to progress the potential of this idea.’