Panama President Laurentino Cortizo has announced all seafarers aboard Panama-flagged vessels will be able to be vaccinated when they dock in Panama regardless of their nationality.
Some 300,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine are already available to start the process.
The seafarers willing to receive the vaccine AstraZeneca, will need only to co-ordinate through the company’s local agent local in Panama who will inform the Panama Maritime Authority and the Ministry of Health.
“The ships are important, but the seafarers are even more important because without them the ships will not move, and we are very happy to be able to provide vaccines for the “key workers” of the Panamanian fleet,” said Capt Juan Maltez, head of the Panama Maritime Authority Department of Seafarers.
Seafarer vaccination lags significantly behind that of developed nations where booster shot programmes are already being rolled out. Neptune Declaration Crew Change Indicator puts seafarer vaccination coverage at 49.5% at the beginning of December, however, given the leading nature of the companies in the survey the overall industry percentage could be lower.
Speaking at Crew Connect Global Virtual Week recently Capt Faouzi Fradi, Group Director, Crewing and Training for Colombia Ship Management, flagged key waterways such as the Panama Canal, Turkish Straits and Suez Canal as locations where vaccinations for seafarers could be increased due to the large number of ships that pass through these regions.