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Pinoy seafarers must be prioritized for single-dose COVID-19 vaccines: lawmaker

Pinoy seafarers must be prioritized for single-dose COVID-19 vaccines: lawmaker
Gillan Ropero, May 30 2021

Department of Foreign Affairs personnel (below) process 101 stranded Filipino seafarers who arrived home from Fujian, China months after their ships were forced to anchor in the high seas in this picture released on July 24, 2020. Photo courtesy of DFA
MANILA (UPDATE) - Filipino seafarers should be prioritized for single-dose COVID-19 vaccines when supply arrives, a lawmaker said Sunday.

The Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) and manning agencies have endorsed single-dose vaccines such as those of Johnson and Johnson and Gamaleya's Sputnik V Light for seafarers, said Marino Partylist Rep. Macnell Lusotan.

"Yung sitwasyon ng mga international foreign vessels, trumping, walang fixed na schedule...Minsan short notices, ibigay less than a week, so paano 'pag 2 dose ang ibigay natin? Maghintay pa sila," he told ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo.

(International foreign vessels have no fixed schedule...They sometimes give short notices, less than a week, so what if we gave 2-dose vaccine to our seafarers? They would have to wait.)

"Ang recommendation natin, hihintayin natin kung darating ang single-dose. Pero sa ngayon... kung anuman ang available na 2-dose na vaccine, ipaturok na natin habang naghihintay tayo ng supply ng single-dose na vaccine."

(Our recommendation is to wait for the single-dose vaccine. But for now...whatever 2-dose vaccine is available should be used as we await for supply of single-dose vaccine.)

The Philippines will prioritize seafarers and Filipino migrant workers for single-dose vaccines in the event that some nations will require certain brands, said vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez.

"Parang magiging discriminatory po iyon (It will be discriminatory). I believe the WHO (World Health Organization) and UN (United Nations) should act on this," he told TeleRadyo in a separate interview.

"Just in case meron po talagang ganung patakaran, we prefer bigyan ang ating OFWs (overseas Filipino workers) and seafarers 'yung single-dose lang," he added.

(In case there's really such a policy, we will prefer to inoculate our OFWs and seafarers with single-dose vaccines.)

Traditional or cargo seafarers were unaffected by the pandemic, while some 50,000 to 100,000 crew members of cruise ships have yet to be deployed, Lusotan said.

"'Pag nagpositibo sila sa barko, pinapababa, pinapabalik, nire-repatriate... Dapat, sigurado na ang sasampa, kung wala pang bakuna, ay negative sila sa pagsampa nila," he said.

(If they test positive aboard a ship, they are asked to disembark and are repatriated...If they were unvaccinated, they should test negative before deployment.)

A Filipino seafarer who tested positive for the Indian variant of the novel coronavirus after docking in the Philippines has succumbed to the disease earlier this month, the Department of Health said last week.

Another also passed away from COVID-19 while his ship was docked in Indonesia, the Marina earlier said.

Filipino seafarers have been classified as part of the sub-group A4 in the country’s list of COVID-19 vaccine priority groups as their work is considered crucial in keeping the economy alive, the Department of Transportation had said.