Several European countries have recently opened up for all foreign seafarers to be vaccinated either at ports or airports and now Norway will follow suit and offer vaccines to all foreign seafarers in Norwegian ports.
Vaccination of seafarers is crucial to solving many of the challenges seafarers and shipping companies have faced since the start of the pandemic. Many seafarers, especially from Asian countries such as the Philippines and Indonesia, fall outside the vaccination program in their home country and have at the same time been hit hard by travel restrictions and quarantine requirements.
According to Harald Solberg, CEO of the Norwegian Shipowners’ Association, it is an important measure that will be of great importance to foreign seafarers and the shipping companies that have been hit very hard by the combination of strict travel restrictions and lack of vaccine access for seafarers who sail internationally.
“In the world, only one in five seafarers has been offered a vaccine and there are still major challenges related to, among other things, crew changes and health care for seafarers. It is therefore very gratifying that Norway has taken its share of the responsibility of ensuring that seafarers are now offered a vaccine, as the WHO has also called for,” Harald Solberg says.
The Norwegian Shipowners’ Association has long worked to make vaccination for seafarers possible in Norway. “The burden on seafarers has been great during this pandemic. At the same time, it has become clear how dependent we are on seafarers, that they can do their job and that the world economy keeps going. It is therefore very gratifying that the government will now contribute to more seafarers being vaccinated and that this can happen as quickly as possible,” Harald Solberg says.
Seafarers will be offered both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. The Norwegian authorities will make the vaccine available free of charge to the shipping companies, which must take responsibility for the vaccination. Municipalities that wish to do so can also provide an offer to seafarers, the Norwegian Shipowners’ Association writes.