The latest Insights about COVID vaccination for crew

Feb 22, 2021

The race to get the Covid-19 vaccine by the major corporations around the world has started before the worldwide rollouts begun. This is most evident across the United States where major corporations such as Amazon, Lyft and Uber are lobbying states and the federal government to designate their employees as essential workers and place them in line for early immunization. When it comes to bringing back the business as usual, vaccination is the main strategy which every company is striving to achieve.

The cruise line industry is no exception as it was left out of business for over a year suffering tremendous financial losses. The cruise industry has made efforts in trying to get back to cruising in a safe and healthy environment by spending a tremendous amount of resources following each guidelines by the CDC and creating safety protocols far more advanced by any land-based company. Despite all their efforts, the cruise lines are still waiting for the green light by the US authorities to set sail, or at least start with the test voyages as mandated by the CDC before resuming regular cruises. At this time it seems like the only way back for the cruise lines will be the Covid-19 vaccine and inoculation of its crew.

Couple of months ago rumors started circulating amongst the crew that some cruise lines are planning to vaccinate all shipboard employees once they board the vessel. The crew reported that the cruise lines are planning to give the vaccine to crew, once they are widely available, because most of the crew comes from developing countries where vaccines are in shortages. Since then some cruise lines announced they will require passengers, and in near future crew, to be fully vaccinated; however, there was nothing official when and how crew members will be vaccinated.

A major cruise line is in talks with pharmaceutical companies

At least one major cruise line is in talks with the pharmaceutical companies but details are not finalized because of the fact that they are not available to the private market at this moment. Crew Center obtained a letter sent to the crew of one major cruise line informing them about the latest updates and progress which reads in part:

"Many of you have inquired about planned vaccination requirements for guests and crew. At this time, our internal supply chain team is working directly with pharmaceutical companies and the intention is for crew members to receive vaccinations, but details are not finalized at this time as supplies are still limited.

At the same time, leaders at (Cruise Company) are working with U.S. government officials to ensure our company and the larger travel industry are well-represented in our mission for safer and healthier return-to-service."

Details of this plan are still unknown especially if the crew will be vaccinated on board or in their home countries once the cruise line manages to get a sufficient amount of doses.

Crew surveys for Covid-19 vaccination

A couple of days ago another major cruise line send an email to its crew asking them to take a survey. The email addressed to the crew reads, in part: “We are confident that the Covid-19 vaccines are powerful new tools that will support the health of everyone when we resume operations. The survey below will help us better understand if you agree to be vaccinated and how soon you will be ready to return to work when we are ready with an assignment.” 

Basically, there were two main questions in this survey. The first question: Do you want to return to work? And the second question: Do you want to be vaccinated? With Multiple Answers a) Have you already received the Covid-19 vaccine? b) Do you have a scheduled COVID-19 vaccine appointment at home? c) Do you want to receive the vaccine onboard? d) Do you refuse to take the COVID-19 Vaccine? If yes please explain why.

This is quite interesting because now at least two cruise lines are considering the option of crew vaccination onboard their ships.

Seafarers organizations lobbying crew to be on the priority list

But not only are the cruise lines are interested to get vaccines for the crew. Seafarers organizations on a national level are lobbying governments for the cruise ship crew to be on the priority list for vaccination. Today IDN Times BALI reported that thousands of Indonesian seafarers requested to be vaccinated as soon as possible fearing that the cruise companies will divert labor needs to other countries. According to the Chairman of the Indonesian Seafarers' Union (KPI) Bali I Dewa Putu Susila, 6,000 crew members in Bali are waiting to board the cruise ships in April. Indonesian Seafarers' Union (KPI) sent a letter to addressed to the Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs requesting priority for vaccination for sailors working on cruise ships with foreign flags.

"If we cannot meet the needs of cruise ship company crews according to their requirements, then the quota will be transferred to another country. So that the number of Indonesian sailors will decrease throughout the world, "he explained.

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