MASSA, NUSI worry as BMC rejects Covid jabs to ‘outsider’ seafarers


India’s apex shipping body, Maritime Association of Shipowners, Shipmanagers and Agents (MASSA) and the National Union of Seafarers of India (NUSI) have expressed concerns over the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation allegedly declining to give the second dose of Covid-19 to seafarers from outside Maharashtra.

MASSA aired its worries in a tweet on Tuesday, pointing out that the Centre has already permitted overseas job-seekers to get their second Covid jab after 28 days.

“Scores of seafarers, maybe barely 1,000 a month, require the second jabs, but they are being refused by the BMC as they are not from Maharashtra. We request the BMC to consider that since this is such a small number, they should be accommodated as it’s a matter of their livelihood,” MASSA CEO Captain Shiv Halbe told IANS.

He said that a majority of seafarers from across the country come to Mumbai as their companies are located here or they have to join ships here, and all shippers or agents want the seamen to be ‘fully vaccinated’ before joining their ships.

“A majority of the seafarers take their second dose at their respective cities of origin. However, a few who may have come earlier or sent to precautionary isolation get left out and they need the repeat jabs before boarding the vessels,” Capt. Halbe explained.

A National Union of Seafarers of India (NUSI) official said that they had also received similar complaints from seafarers and are pursuing the issue with the BMC.

On June 7, the Centre issued guidelines reducing the gap between the first and second doses to 28 days for certain categories of personnel and mandated the facility at designated government hospitals.

While the BMC has designated 7 inoculation centres authorised to vaccinate the eligible personnel, in recent times, the seafarers with all relevant documentation are reportedly being turned away on the grounds that they don’t hail from Maharashtra.

However, both MASSA and NUSI feel the civic body should give the second jabs on priority to the seafarers wherever they maybe coming from in India as their numbers are negligible, and they need it for their ship duties.

Despite attempts by IANS, the concerned civic officials were not available for comments on the issue.