• News & Updates
  • AMOSUP hospitals administer COVID-19 jabs for seafarers

AMOSUP hospitals administer COVID-19 jabs for seafarers

August 2, 2021

President Dr Conrado F Oca says the Union has the personnel, facilities and equipment readily available to conduct seafarers’ vaccinations. All that is needed are the vaccines

The AMOSUP chain of Seamen’s Hospitals across the country is extending its services and facilities to the government-led COVID-19 vaccination programme of Filipino seafarers serving on the world’s fleets.

As part of its mission to fight for the right and welfare of Filipino seafarers, AMOSUP has been co-ordinating with the government’s Inter-Agency Technical Working Group (TWG) in the Philippine government’s effort to vaccinate Filipino seafarers to safeguard their health and wellbeing as key workers. It is also in its recognition of their vital role in transporting essential goods and keeping the global supply chain uninterrupted amidst the pandemic.
The Union has always expressed its strong commitment to work together with the government and maritime stakeholders to ensure that Filipino seafarers are given the priority to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

“AMOSUP has the personnel, facilities and equipment readily available to conduct seafarers’ vaccinations. All that is needed are the vaccines,” said AMOSUP President, Dr Conrado F.Oca.

In a meeting with MARINA Administrator Robert Empedrad and Vaccine Czar Secretary Carlito Galvez on the vaccination roll out for seafarers, Dr Oca offered to help the government through one of the Union’s service units: the Seamen’s Hospitals in Manila, Cebu, Iloilo and Davao.

Dr Oca’s proposal was welcomed by the TWG, which is composed of key government agencies such as the DOTr-Maritime, Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA), Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), Department of Health – Bureau of Quarantine (DOH-BOQ), Department of Foreign Affairs – Maritime and Ocean Affairs Office (DFA-MOAO), as well as the MARINO Partylist, and maritime employers organizations Association of Licensed Manning Agencies (ALMA) and Joint Manning Group (JMG).

As agreed by the group, the master list of seafarers for the vaccination roll out will come from the database of MARINA and POEA, while the scheduling will be based on the deployment plan that ship operators and licensed manning agencies (LMAs) are required to submit to MARINA on a monthly basis starting June 2021. Seafarers will then be instructed to register through MARINA’s seafarers COVID-19 vaccination platform.

The TWG has designated AMOSUP Seamen’s Hospital Manila to administer the vaccines for seafarers in Metro Manila (vaccination site: AMOSUP-JSU Sen’in No Ie “Seafarer House” in Intramuros, Manila); Gig Oca Robles Seamen’s Hospital Davao for seafarers located in Davao; AMOSUP Seamen’s Hospital Iloilo for seafarers residing in Iloilo; AMOSUP Seamen’s Hospital Cebu for seafarers situated in Cebu; and their respective local government units (LGUs) for seafarers “whose residential location is more practical and convenient for their inoculation,” a MARINA advisory read.

Ceremonial vaccination
To kick-off the major event. AMOSUP and MARINA formally began vaccinating seafarers from different crewing agencies with the ceremonial jabs held at Seamen’s Centre in Intramuros last 17 June 2021. The event was arranged simultaneous with MARINA’s 47th anniversary that was graced by DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade as the guest of honour.
The secretary along with MARINA administrator Robert Empedrad virtually witnessed the vaccination ceremony. Fifteen ship officers and ratings the TWG setup from different crewing agencies received the COVID-19 jabs of Sinovac for their protection before they embark on their respective ships in the next couple of months.
Seafarers were initially categorised under B3 or “other essential workers” and B5 or “overseas Filipino workers” in the national vaccination priority framework. With the recommendation of the TWG – through the DOTr – it placed the country’s merchant marine personnel under priority group A4 or “frontline personnel in essential sectors” and recently in A1.

The vaccinated crew extended their gratitude and appreciation for Secretary Tugade and the MARINO Partylist. One of the seafarers, a chief engineer who was bound to travel to his ship, encouraged his fellow mariners to register for the vaccination programme, which is usually administered by the local government units. He said that this would significantly help to protect his family from potential infection as he is a frontliner.

The government intends to start vaccinating seafarers as soon as the next batch of vaccines arrives and aims to inoculate 30,000 seafarers per month.

All registered seafarers for vaccination will be required to present their Seafarer’s Record Book and Overseas Exit Clearance or Sea Service Certification at the sites.

Acknowledgement
Dr Oca said the work continues and AMOSUP is all in. “We acknowledge the Philippine government’s action to bring to fruition the collaborative efforts among all the maritime stakeholders to push for the vaccination of Filipino seafarers across the country.”

Indeed, he stressed that “we must be aggressive in carrying out the inoculation of our seafarers who are the lifeblood of the global shipping industry and our country’s economic front liners. We at AMOSUP stand by our commitment to work in solidarity with the government, the private sector and our social partners to ensure the safety and overall wellbeing of our seafarers.”

Prior to AMOSUP’s involvement in the national vaccination programme, the Union has put up its own Molecular and PCR Laboratory for seafarers at the Seamen’s Hospital Manila through the generous assistance of the International Transport Workers’ Federation Seafarers’ Trust (ITFST).

The DOH-accredited AMOSUP Seamen’s Hospital Molecular and PCR Laboratory, which started operating in September 2020 and led to AMOSUP’s collaboration with maritime stakeholders, such as the International Maritime Employers’ Council (IMEC), International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), Norwegian Shipowners Association and NYK, to establish the “Safe Corridor Quarantine and Testing Initiative” for seafarers.

The Safe Corridor Initiative, launched in October 2020, was accredited and cited by the Singapore-based SG-STAR Fund Task Force (SFTF) as CrewSafe for the “successful crew changes in a safe and responsible manner.” SF