Danish and foreign seafarers often spend months at sea, and it can be challenging to get vaccine schedules to line up with long periods of seagoing service. Furthermore, many seafarers come from countries where there is no easy access to vaccines.
Therefore, a large number of seafarers have not been vaccinated against COVID-19.
But in the future, this will be a little easier. The Danish government has just decided to establish a scheme that will enable everyone, including foreign nationals on short stays in Denmark, to receive the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine for a fee.
In practice, this means that when a ship docks at a Danish port, it will be possible to vaccinate the entire crew.
“During the COVID-19 pandemic, shipping has underlined its crucial role of ensuring the supply chains around the world. At the same time, the industry and in particular the seafarers have faced great challenges due to the pandemic, the closure of borders and other restrictions on the movement of people on a global scale. I am pleased that Denmark by this solution actively contributes to overcoming the COVID-19 related challenges facing seafarers and the shipping industry,” said Minister for Industry, Business and Financial Affairs, Simon Kollerup.
This new opportunity for seafarers to receive the vaccine has been praised by Danish Shipping.
“It’s extremely positive that even more seafarers can now get vaccinated. A COVID-19 vaccination is often their ticket to being able to sign on and off of their ships as they travel around the world. Simultaneously, a number of seafarers from, for example, the Philippines and India, have not had the same access to vaccines in their home countries, and in this area, we as a maritime nation have the opportunity to lend a helping hand,” said Jacob Meldgaard, CEO of TORM A/S and Chairman of Danish Shipping.
Trade union, Dansk Metal joined Danish Shipping in sending a letter to the Danish Minister for Health earlier this year, requesting that vaccines be offered to seafarers. Therefore, President of Dansk Metal Claus Jensen also welcomes the prospect of more vaccinated seafarers:
“We must take good care of our seafarers, and therefore it should also be possible for them to get vaccinated when they dock at Danish ports, regardless of the colour of their passports. Seafarers have worked hard throughout the coronavirus crisis, and it therefore also makes sense that they now be offered a vaccine in Denmark if they want it.”
A single dose is ideal
In practice, the vaccines will be provided by private companies, and as the seafarers are only at ports for a short while, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is ideal, as only one dose is needed.
Approximately 3,000 seafarers are expected to be able to get vaccinated in Denmark in the second half of 2021.