COVID-19 Vaccination of Seafarers: IG P&I FAQs
They have also collaborated with the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) on a publication entitled “Legal, liability and Insurance Issues arising from Vaccination of Seafarers”.
Further information and resources about the impacts of Covid-19 can be found on our dedicated webpage.
Governments are providing free vaccinations for their citizens and, increasingly, to visiting seafarers. However, the provision of COVID-19 vaccinations is an operational issue and so neither the cost of the vaccine, nor any ancillary costs, are covered under P&I insurance.
If, during the course of their employment, a crew member is diagnosed with symptoms due to a reaction to a vaccination and both the vaccine and the vaccine administrator were approved according to the relevant protocol in that jurisdiction, then the shipowner’s liability for illness and/or death, under the terms of employment and any applicable Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), would apply as it would with any other illness. This liability would be covered by the shipowner's P&I insurance, with each case depending on its individual facts and merits.
And ICS paragraph 3.1.9 "What would the shipowner’s liabilities be in the event that a seafarer refused vaccination and other crew members contracted COVID-19 as a result of contact with the unvaccinated seafarer?"
A seafarer employed under a contract of employment which does not make vaccination a requirement for employment cannot be required or mandated to be vaccinated, so P&I cover would not be prejudiced.
The information found here on the availability of vaccines for seafarers in ports around the world may also be useful.
Now that countries are beginning to vaccinate foreign seafarers, a shipowner may decide to provide the opportunity to vaccinate the whole crew at once or only part of the crew. Particularly when deciding to vaccinate all their crew at once, a shipowner should consider the risk of adverse reactions and the potential impact on safe manning levels. Even the usual side effects from the vaccine may still affect the ability of the crew to perform their duties safely for a limited period of time.
If vaccinating part of the crew, shipowners may wish to select crew from various ranks to ensure that safe manning levels are maintained and also to prioritise according to risk, including age and health status.
If seafarers are to be vaccinated in port, it is important to coordinate closely with the vessel’s agent and provide them with the vessel's ETA so that they can liaise with the vaccine facilitator. The earlier these operational arrangements are started, the more likely they are to proceed smoothly.