News 19 May, 2021

Should I arrange COVID-19 vaccinations for my crew?

This is an operational decision but if Members make such arrangements, they must ensure they do their due diligence beforehand. The more responsibility Members assume in arranging vaccinations the greater the potential liability they may face.

The International Chamber of Shipping has produced guidance for COVID-19 vaccination of seafarers which explains the legal, liability and insurance issues arising from vaccination of seafarers. This guidance has been put together in collaboration with the International Group (IG) (view here). This is the industry best practice on seafarer COVID-19 vaccinations and may be amended from time to time as the situation changes. Members should also check with their flag state, local health authorities and government departments in the countries where the vaccinations will be carried out for further guidance. This will ensure that the process is carried out correctly and in accordance with the applicable laws/regulations.

Where third party companies are used, particularly in the US, extra caution should be exercised to ensure that the service provided is adequate and in accordance with the local government guidance. COVID-19 vaccinations in the US are supplied by the government free of charge. Third party companies arranging the vaccinations may charge for their service but not for the vaccines.

The Club would also caution against vaccinating crew all at once whilst on contract as this may lead to manning issues if many seafarers are taken ill with adverse effects.

Will the Club cover crew illness due to adverse effects from the COVID-19 vaccine?

If any crewmember is taken ill due to adverse effects from a COVID-19 vaccination, as long as the crewmember is under contract, the Member will be obliged to provide medical care and the usual contractual entitlements under the crew contract. The Club will cover such cases in the same way as any other crew illness under the usual crew illness rule.  

Should crew sign a consent form to have the COVID-19 vaccination?

Under the ICS guidance Members cannot vaccinate their crew without the seafarer’s voluntary and informed consent. We therefore recommend that Members have their crew sign a consent form which provides that the seafarer agrees to have the COVID-19 vaccine and that they have been provided with all the available information about any adverse effects from the relevant agency (the form should state the party carrying out the vaccination). We do not recommend that crew sign a waiver against any adverse effects as under the ICS guidance, Members remain responsible to their crew for any adverse effects as long as they are under contract.