SEVENTEEN seafarers onboard bulk carrier MV Mount Owen have received COVID-19 vaccinations with the support of Mission to Seafarers Victoria.

The Mission to Seafarers team worked in collaboration with Ports Victoria and private health provider Vital Health to vaccinate the crew, comprised mostly of Filipino seafarers.

Mission to Seafarers Victoria CEO Sue Dight told DCN the seafarers were “absolutely thrilled” to get vaccinated.

“It means they were able to continue their journey,” she said. “For some of them it was the first dose, and for others it was a booster shot.”

The crew of Mount Owen was selected because they had requested the vaccinations, which initiated a trial program for further seafarer vaccinations in Melbourne.

Ms Dight said the team is preparing to board another ship next week to provide a smaller group with their second doses at their request, but the service is being made available to other vessels in port.

“Because it’s such a small team that require their second shot, we’re actually looking for other ships in the Port of Melbourne on 17 March to extend the service to them,” she said.

“We’ve vaccinated a number of different seafarers over time, using different methods as well.

“For crew that have been doing crew change and have fully quarantined, we’ve been able to take them to our local pharmacy and get them vaccinated too.”

Ms Dight said seafarers vaccinated in Melbourne are able to receive second doses and booster shots at ports in Sydney and Brisbane, where local Mission to Seafarers centres have been providing free vaccination services through their respective health departments.

She said port communities and health authorities need to facilitate seafarer vaccinations for the trend to continue in Australia, which will also carry benefits for the wider industry.

“It’s vital for seafarers to be vaccinated as they need the assurance that they’re not going to become unwell onboard.

“The supply chain can then continue because there will be fewer medical emergencies, and the flow of goods in and out of Australia can continue.”