India establishes seafarer vaccination programme at six major ports

India’s shipping minister over the weekend vowed to speed up the volume of vaccinations issued to the nation’s seafarers, but he has yet to be drawn on reducing the 12-week gap between first and second doses.

Indian seafarers have watched on as many other nations have prioritised vaccinating sea-going professionals, most notably in China. Indian crewing experts have been urging New Delhi to get the nation’s seafarers jabbed quicker or else risk losing their status as one of the world’s top providers of crew to the international merchant fleet.

Many nations around the world have banned ships with recent calls – or staff boarded recently – from India as the nation battles a nasty strain of the virus.

Mansukh Mandaviya, India’s ports, shipping and waterways minister, revealed on Saturday that six major ports have started vaccination centres. The ports in question are Mumbai, Cochin, Chennai, Visakhapatnam, Kolkata and Tuticorin.

The ministry has also been talking with state governments to ensure seafarers are included on their priority lists for jabs, with Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Goa all agreeing so far.

“India is committed to providing vaccines to seafarers,” Mandaviya said in a tweet.

Now, in order to get back to work quicker with many shipowners demanding fully vaccinated crews, Indian seafarers are calling for the government to ease the 84-day gap between doses of the Covishield vaccine.

Many shipping organisations and large shipmanagers have in recent weeks set about their own vaccination programmes in India.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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