SINGAPORE: Non-resident foreign sea crew in Singapore will now be offered COVID-19 vaccinations, Senior Minister of State for Transport Chee Hong Tat announced on Monday (Aug 30).
They will be eligible if they are working in Singapore for a prolonged period, are engaged in the supply of essential goods, or are involved in ferrying passengers.
Under the Sea Crew Vaccination Initiative, crew with stays of more than 30 days, and who work on board homeported cruise ships, ships under repair in shipyards, and yachts at marinas used for events will qualify.
It will also include those who work on board fishing vessels, ship supply vessels and regional ferries which enter and leave Singapore waters at least once a month.
Speaking at the opening of this year’s International Safety@Sea Week, Mr Chee said: "Such seafarers may interact with our local community in the course of their work, so protecting them through vaccinations is part of our national effort to become a COVID-19 resilient nation."
'COMPANIES OR INDIVIDUALS SHOULD BE PREPARED TO PAY'
Eligible crew will be given either the Pfizer-BioNTech/Comirnaty or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines, depending on availability. They can receive their vaccinations at designated sites set up close to them.
The authorities also said in a joint news release that companies or individuals should be prepared to pay for the jabs.
They added that they will be reaching out to companies involved to schedule the vaccinations.
"There will be strict enforcement to ensure that only eligible sea crew are scheduled for vaccination," said the authorities.
Companies with eligible crew who have not been informed by respective agencies by Sep 30 may request for vaccination by providing supporting documents.
In a statement to CNA, Royal Caribbean said that it was "pleased" vaccinations for its Quantum of the Seas crew have began.
"We anticipate that the crew will be fully vaccinated by early October (this year)," the company said.
The cruise line also added that it is moving towards requiring all crew members and guests of eligible age to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
The vaccine policy, said Royal Caribbean, is one of its measures to safeguard the well-being of all guests, crew members and communities at each port of call, adding that protocols include the ship's ventilation systems, enhanced cleaning and sanitisation and cruising at reduced occupancy.
EXPANDING THE VACCINATION DRIVE
Mr Chee also said that efforts are ongoing to also allow ocean-going sign-on foreign seafarers to receive vaccinations as part of the established crew sign-on process in Singapore.
"These seafarers will undergo strict pre-arrival isolation and testing and strict bubble-wrap protocol when they are in Singapore," he added.
The measure will start when the arrangements and necessary protocols are place.
"With this initiative, Singapore will join the network of ports around the world that are offering such vaccinations to international seafarers, including in Europe and the US," he said.
More than 90 per cent of Singapore’s maritime workers and seafarers are fully vaccinated so far.
Eighty-nine per cent of the 7,500 resident seafarers working in Singapore’s port waters have received at least one dose of the vaccine, with 82 per cent fully vaccinated.