Vaccinations began in May and among the 100 to receive their COVID-19 jab were some of the crew of the RRS Sir David Attenborough.
Timothy Bage, port health manager of Cornwall Port Health Authority explains the rationale behind setting up the scheme.
“You would have no doubt stood to admire the ships off the coast of Cornwall at some point, but what you would not have seen are the seafarers onboard, who have been so vital over the last 18 months in keeping our supply chains running. Chances are the device you are reading this article on was brought to the UK as ship’s cargo, and that required seafarers.
“Often seafarers are away from home for anywhere between 3 and 9 months, and in some cases because the pandemic, 12 to 18 months. It helps to build up immunity in the seafaring community, and I am proud to say with the NHS we have now vaccinated 100. This scheme encapsulates the ‘one and all’ motto of Cornwall.”
All commercial vessels entering Cornish waters are required to declare their health status on arrival to the Port Health Authority, and submit for inspection. It is at this point where they are approached for vaccination and referred to the NHS to attend a large scale vaccination centre.
One such crew that received vaccination when they came alongside in Falmouth on 18 July, was that of the RRS Sir David Attenborough. The ship was undergoing trials off the coast of Falmouth.
RRS Sir David Attenborough is owned by Natural Environment Research Council and operated by the British Antarctic Survey. The ship is now in Harwich getting ready for a voyage to a specialist shipyard in Denmark for final technical checks and fitting out in readiness for the first mission to Antarctica.
Simon Long, project lead for the vaccination centres, said: “I’m really pleased that by working together with the Cornwall Port Health Authority we have been able to vaccinate so many seafarers and provide protection against the virus.
“We want to make it as easy for as many eligible people as possible to have their COVID-19 jab, which involves making sure we get to those who are normally at sea.”
Simon Evans, chief officer, RRS Sir David Attenborough said: “At a time when health professionals are under a lot of strain, we’re really grateful to Cornwall Port Health for vaccinating some of the RRS Sir David Attenborough crew and keeping us safe and healthy while on board.”