InterManager vows to get the world’s seafarers vaccinated

Frustrated by the lack of progress and slow pace of international efforts, InterManager, the association of third party shipmanagers, has vowed to work separately to obtain much-needed Covid-19 vaccines to protect the world’s more than 1.5m seafarers.

InterManager president Mark O’Neil declared: “Global organisations have talked their way round in circles and still we are no further forward in providing a vaccination programme for seafarers who are vital in ensuring that world trade and aid continues to be delivered. InterManager says enough is enough – realising that the international efforts have not been sufficient in recognising the importance of the vaccination of seafarers we will now work on sourcing vaccinations separately through legitimate channels to enable our members to vaccinate their seafarers as soon as possible and to support others within the maritime industry to do the same.”

India and Belgium have this week committed to getting seafarers vaccinated

The United Nations has designated seafarers as essential workers but so far only 58 countries have followed this directive and are prioritising seafarers to enable them to travel to and from vessels. In addition, vast numbers of seafarers originate from developing countries where the official rollout of vaccinations are hampered by the availability of vaccines, thus compounding the problem.

In a small piece of encouraging news, India and Belgium have this week committed to getting seafarers vaccinated at their ports.

We are deeply frustrated with the lack of progress and cannot wait any longer

Speaking with Splash, Kuba Szymanski, InterManager’s secretary general, said: “We are deeply frustrated with the lack of progress and cannot wait any longer.”

Szymanski said InterManager is actively looking for answers and will closely cooperate with anyone who can provide the organisation with legitimate solutions for a global seafarer vaccination roll-out.

O’Neil, meanwhile, stressed that InterManager will continue to collaborate and give full support to the International Maritime Organisation and fellow shipping industry NGOs in sourcing vaccination for seafarers. However, he expressed his disappointment at the slow speed of international efforts, commenting: “The IMO is hampered by having to negotiate through the United Nations, World Health Organisation and others. Sitting back and waiting for these bureaucratic institutions is only part of the solution.”

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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