Seafarers have been designated as frontline COVID warriors and are awaiting vaccination in order to return to work.
The delay in vaccinating mariners is expected to result in a decrease in the number of ships visiting Indian ports. A statement from the Ministry of Shipping warned that foreign vessels avoiding Indian ports could impede trade, including the import and export of crucial commodities.
According to the communication, Kerala has approximately 46,000 seafarers, with half of them requiring vaccination in the first phase.
On their complaints of vaccine shortage at government hospitals, Merchant Navy Officers Cricket Club in Kochi has taken steps to get their members vaccinated.
The Chennai Port provides vaccination services to seafarers.
The shortage of seafarers for crew changes and unrestricted movement could be hampered by the vaccine delay. Ships having Indian crews have been subjected to tight restrictions in several countries.
Crew changes at foreign ports may be hampered as a result of such restrictions. The ministry has also advised state officials to add seafarers and port workers to the list of frontline personnel who should be vaccinated first.
According to the club's secretary, also a mariner ,Tijo Joseph,the Cochin Port Trust authorities assured sailors that they were willing to provide a comparable service if the appropriate clearance was obtained from the State Health authorities.Once the Cochin Port Trust receives approval, the trust has offered to provide a vaccination facility at the hospital it manages, and seafarers can be vaccinated in batches.
Dr R. Ramesh, Director of Health Services, stated that the vaccination drive would have to be coordinated by the designated nodal officer of frontline workers with the vaccination officials in each district. Vaccines will be made available to people who have registered using the smartphones that were created for the purpose, as well as through the network, he added.