An initiative of New South Wales Ports and Health has seen 1,500 global seafarers protected against COVID-19.

The Seafarers Vaccination Program (SVP) began in May 2021 to vaccinate seafarers at Port Botany, Australia’s largest trade gateway. 

It was the first Australian port to offer vaccinations, with similar programs now in place at Port Kembla terminals, as well as other New South Wales and interstate ports. 

 Since its inception, 85 ships berthing at Port Botany have had crew members vaccinated; with almost 1,500 vaccinations administered in the past 12 months.

New South Wales Ports, Port Operations Manager, Wayne Ashton, said the business is proud to help vaccinate seafarers, who play an integral role in the supply chain on which we all rely.

“This program is helping to protect the health and welfare of the critical workforce of seafarers who crew the cargo ships that deliver essential goods around the world,” Mr Ashton said. 

There are more than 1.6 million seafarers who work on merchant ships world-wide – many of whom spent more than 12 months on ships during the peak of the pandemic when health protocols restricted crew changes. Often their only contact was with the Mission to Seafarers, whose dedicated staff have also helped deliver the vaccination program. 

“By delivering vaccines, we’re helping to fortify the maritime workforce and broader industry, so seafarers receive the health support they deserve, and supply chains remain resilient,” Mr Ashton said.  

“I’ve never seen people more grateful to receive their COVID-19 vaccinations. We’ve delivered many initial jabs to seafarers, and I’m really pleased that second doses and booster jabs are being provided to crews now as well.” 

New South Wales Health’s State Emergency Operations Centre Controller, Joanne Edwards, said the Seafarers Vaccination Program is critically important to boosting vaccination rates among seafarers. 

“This collaboration between NSW Health and NSW Ports is evidence of how versatile and far-reaching the COVID-19 vaccination effort has been in New South Wales,” Ms Edwards said.

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