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The best defence is a good offence – Why vaccinations matter

UK P&I Club stresses the importance of vaccinations for seafarers

Posted on: 19th July 2017

Sophia Bullard, Crew Health Programme Director at UK P&I Club discusses the importance of vaccinations for seafarers:

“One of the most effective and obvious ways to prevent infections onboard a ship is good personal hygiene. However, for seafarers who travel worldwide this is often not enough. Vaccination is the most effective method to prevent the spread of common, preventable, illnesses onboard, such as Hepatitis B and Chickenpox.

“The Crew Health Programme has investigated the cost of immunisations in numerous locations, and whilst costs do vary depending on location, many are very reasonably priced and in some countries certain vaccines are even offered free.

“Seafarers frequently travel to many destinations around the globe and each port may bring its own disease or illness. Also, because of the long periods of time they go without receiving any medical care, it is recommended crew obtain early vaccination. Certain specific infections, such as yellow fever, Hepatitis A & B and Typhoid fever are all readily preventable but cannot be treated on a ship and can have serious consequences.

“Just because crew members may be regular travellers to the same part of the globe, it doesn’t mean vaccinations should be skipped. Seafarers are not alone on the ship and it is impossible to know if all members of the crew have had their vaccinations or if they may have an active infection. Cross-infection in confined spaces is a very real possibility.

“The UK P&I Club encourages shipowners to consider early intervention through the introduction of a vaccination programme at crew entry level. Immunisation is advised for all crew to ensure maximum prevention of disease. Additionally, if required at a later stage, crew could also be vaccinated as part of their pre-employment medical examination.

“Seafarers are encouraged to keep their vaccinations up to date. A seafarer who can fight the infection will be able to continue in his job and be efficient on board. In a worst case scenario, a sick seafarer may need to be repatriated, putting more pressure on his fellow members, and risking the spread of the infection to the rest of the crew.”

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