Major organizations that unite employers and seafarers have created a working group on vaccination of seafarers against coronavirus. Last week the first meeting was held, which was attended by representatives of the International chamber of shipping (ICS), International transport workers 'Federation (ITF), the Baltic and International Maritime Council (BIMCO), International Association of independent tanker owners (Intertanko), the European shipowners' Association (ECSA) and the International ship managers Association (Intermanager). The parties came to the conclusion that the COVID-19 vaccination in the new year can become the main tool for organizing unhindered crew shifts around the world. Most likely it will not be mandatory, but it is likely that airlines and authorities in most countries will require its presence in the medical book. In this case, experts noted, vaccination against coronavirus may even become an additional condition for the employment of seafarers (for example, certification of vaccination against yellow fever). At the same time everyone understands that there are still many issues on the agenda. In particular, how to give priority access to existing and developing vaccines to seafarers, and who will be responsible if side effects occur. All these topics will be discussed weekly by the experts of the working group. The southern territorial organization of the SUR asked Russian seafarers about their personal attitude to vaccination. The opinions of crewmembers vary, but many express the hope that the vaccine will be properly tested before widespread use. For example, Viktor Bondar, Second Mate for Sovcomflot Management services (Novorossiysk), said: «I, for example, have already been exposed to this virus, so I do not see the need to be vaccinated for myself. This is not a bad idea in itself since we are already being vaccinated against yellow fever, but the vaccine must be tested. I don't want to experiment on myself.»
Oleg Prokofiev, a Third Mate for Columbia Shipmanagement Novorossiysk, said: «I'm not against a coronavirus vaccination, if it really helps to normalize our work.»
Vyacheslav Vareldzhan, Boatswain for SCF Management company (Novorossiysk), said: «Of course, vaccination will greatly facilitate the employment. Now, because of one crewmember with a positive test, the shift of all the others is postponed. And the tests themselves are very imperfect, often false-positive.»
Meanwhile, Alexey Savchenko, an Electrician for Sovcomflot Management services (Novorossiysk), considers vaccination pointless: «Of course, it is very difficult to work without going ashore. It's like suddenly being unable to go to the store. But I don't see the point of a vaccine either, because the virus is constantly mutating.»
Alexey Zhaglin, Second Engineer for Sovcomflot Management services (Novorossiysk).: «It should take a year or two to make sure that there are no «side effects». Then it will be possible to get vaccinated without any questions.»
The Seafarers Union of Russia in turn expresses the hope that all the doubts of seafarers will be taken into account by the working group. For sure, crewmembers in all parts of the world think something similar about vaccination.