Filipino seafarers get a closer shot at getting vaccines against COVID-19 as the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) approves the recommendation of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to include them in the priority recipients listed in the government’s national vaccination rollout.
From falling under B3 (Other essential workers) or B5 (Overseas Filipino Workers) in the Vaccination Priority Framework, the Inter-Agency Working Group has requested for the reclassification of Filipino seafarers to A4 (Frontline personnel in essential sectors, including uniformed personnel and those in working sectors identified by the IATF as essential during ECQ). This makes seafarers move at the top 4 priority groups to be vaccinated.
Furthermore, the prioritization of seafarers in the vaccination is based on the following grounds: Filipino seafarers are declared key workers globally and locally; Filipino seafarers are considered mobile, who, as part of their jobs, frequently enter various ports across the world; and shipping companies prefer their workforce to be vaccinated to ensure that their operations will remain smooth, unhampered, and somehow immune to the severe effects of COVID-19.
Per MARINA and POEA data, there are a total of 549,000 active seafarers registered in their system, wherein around 497,000 are those deployed overseas and 51,000 are serving locally. Meanwhile, a total of 181,000 seafarers are without updated sea service within the last three (3) years.
In summary, there are 730,651 Filipino seafarers who are for consideration in the A4 category.