New January 2022 data from the Neptune Declaration shows that 59.8% of seafarers in its sample have been vaccinated against COVID. This is an increase of 10.3 percentage points since December 2021.
By way of comparison, the proportion of the EU population vaccinated against COVID is 68%; in Hong Kong it is 63%; Japan 79%; Singapore 83%; the UK 71% and the US 62%.
The data is provided by ship and crew managers. The Neptune Declaration indicates that the data may overstate the actual proportion of vaccinated seafarers.
The data-providing ship managers indicate that some seafarer nationalities have a resistance and hesitancy to take the vaccine. There are also availability issues in some geographic regions and access to booster vaccines has been reported as challenging.
The Neptune Declaration also reports that a lack of a global vaccine standard has resulted in many countries not recognising some of the “most frequently used” World Health Organization approved vaccines.
“Although the rates of seafarer vaccinations remain behind those of large shipping nations, the gap between vaccinated seafarers and seafaring nations is closing as some countries are seeing a stagnating rate whereas seafarer vaccination rates are continuing to increase significantly month by month,” the Neptune Declaration notes.
Crew change data for January 2022 shows that about 3.1% of seafarers are onboard vessels beyond the expiry of their contracts, which is one percentage point down on the December 2021 figure. There has been a declining trend since September 2021.
Meanwhile, the percentage of seafarers aboard ship for over 11 months is 0.4%, which is a marginal decrease on the previous month. There has a been a steadily declining trend of seafarers being onboard for over 11 months since approximately June 2021.
Positive though this news is, the data is based on a mid-December 2021 data set and so the most recent effects of the Omicron-COVID variant may not be reflected in these January 2022 numbers.
The data-providing ship managers noted that Omicron, and rising infection rates, have caused many countries to review their COVID protocols and to reimpose restrictions which is causing renewed crew-change difficulties.