The Cyprus Shipping Deputy Ministry (SDM) is marking the Day of the Seafarer by issuing a circular that outlines plans to provide COVID-19 vaccinations to all seafarers on Cyprus-flagged and Cyprus-managed vessels. Cyprus is also exploring the potential to become a vaccination hub for all visiting seafarers.
According to the circular, 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 Cyprus-based companies.
Cyprus is exploring the possibility of becoming a vaccination hub, but says this relies upon a proportion of surplus vaccines from other countries being made available for seafarers.
Since the emergence of the pandemic, Cyprus has been at the forefront of finding practical, global measures to support seafarers impacted by the crew change crisis. It 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 also presented a proposal for a global seafarers vaccination program to the International Maritime Organization (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 Labor Organization (ILO).
“We remain committed to finding a realistic approach to a global seafarer vaccination program,” says Vassilios Demetriades, Cyprus Shipping Deputy Minister. “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 would also like to further explore, in cooperation with the global shipping community, the possibility of becoming a vaccination hub for seafarers,” the Deputy Minister continued. “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.”