Following the recent reports of successful COVID-19 vaccine trials it seems increasingly likely that a viable vaccine will be available within the next few months.
There has been a call from the Union of Greek Shipowners to prioritise seafarers for vaccination to prevent their continued shunning by governments and allow smooth crew changes to occur.
The immense difficulties with effecting crew changes during the pandemic have been well documented, with some seafarers staying onboard vessels well over the limit of 11 months imposed by the MLC. Aside from the human cost to seafarers, this has resulted in significant expense to shipowners, who are often having to jump through multiple hoops in order to get crew changes done.
An effective vaccine could hold the key to ensuring uninterrupted international trade and a return to a degree of normalcy for seafarers. Many crewing agencies and shipowners already pay for their crew to have certain vaccinations as part of their job. A COVID-19 jab may just be another on a long list.