The Ministry of Health (MINSA) with the Panama Maritime Authority (AMP) have begun the process of vaccinating against Covid-19 all seafarers arriving at Panamanian ports, regardless of nationality, aboard Panama-flagged ships, or other registries.
Some 300,000 doses of AstraZeneca are available and will be applied in Pacific and Atlantic ports. The Panama Maritime Authority is in contact with the shipping agencies to get information from the vessels docking in Panama and determine the number of seafarers interested in being vaccinated.
Elsewhere, following the inoculation of foreign and Belgian seafarers since June, Belgium is once again spearheading a booster vaccine campaign for these maritime workers starting this week.
The vaccination of seafarers continues to be a challenge. In a note to members of his association yesterday, Kuba Szymanski, secretary general of InterManager, reported: “Ship and crew managers are in a very difficult spot. On the one hand, our Principals – owners, charterers and other partners – demand fully vaccinated crew. However, on the other hand, many seafarer supply countries are struggling to provide vaccination.”
In addition, changes have been made to the international recognition status of some vaccines which have already been provided to seafarers. For example, Johnson and Johnson is not recognised anymore by some jurisdictions, a popular choice for jabs for seafarers as it is a one-dose medication.