Seafarers may be accorded Western vaccines to keep their work
MANILA – Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said there is a possibility the government will inoculate outbound seafarers with western-made vaccines as preferred by their employers.
This was his reaction to reports from seafarers brought up during this morning’s Tapatan sa Aristocrat that there are employers who are not keen on employing Filipino seafarers given Sinovac vaccines.
Asked if such information has reached his office, MARINA Administrator Robert A. Empedrad, a retired Vice Admiral from the Philippine Navy, said he learned of such situation.
He said MARINA is preparing the protocol to inoculate seafarers at the soonest possible time. Manning agencies have been tasked to submit names of their seafarers bound for deployment within the next 30 to sixty days.
Seafarers who have received their second jabs will be the ones allowed to leave the country because it would be useless not to have their second dose.
“Yung Sinovac ayaw ng mga ibang country, barko ng Europe, we cannot deploy them. We are hoping Secretary Carlito Galvez will provide us J&J vaccine so seafarers can have their single dose so they can leave immediately,” Vice Admiral Empedrad said.
He said there are more than 700,000 seafarers up for inoculation but the government will prioritize those who are supposed to leave within the next 30 to 60 days in the vicinity of 20 to 30,000 monthly.
Secretary Roque said there is enough reason for the seafarers to be given western-made vaccines because their employment and their family’s welfare are at stake. He added he hopes to make a presentation on this matter during the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infections Diseases (IATF-EID) meeting scheduled Monday afternoon.
It was learned there are about 50,000 Filipino seafarers employed by European shipping companies, most of them are in Greece. Another country said to be cautious of vaccines given their migrant workers is the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. (Melo M. Acuña)
MARINA Administrator Robert A. Empedrad. (Screen Grab from Tapatan sa Aristocrat/Melo M. Acuna)