Scotland’s migrant fishermen to be given Covid vaccine

Coming from the Philippines, Ghana, Sri Lanka and Indonesia, they can spend up to a year at a time working in Scottish waters.

A new scheme offering the coronavirus vaccine to migrant fishermen in Scotland has been launched.

Crews who work on North Sea trawlers can now have the jab at clinics in Peterhead, Fraserburgh and Macduff.

Sidney Sevilla, a Filipino fisherman, was one of the first in line at the Peterhead vaccination centre.

“I feel excited and nervous,” he said.

“It’s mixed emotions. I do think we can save lives for everyone though.”

More than 300 migrant fishermen have already signed up to be vaccinated, and it is hoped many more will follow.

Logistically, it is much easier for the crews to be vaccinated in Scotland, especially as some have to quarantine for 14 days if they decide to return home.

The sessions have been set up by the charity, The Fishermen’s Mission.

It was concerned that due to the transient nature of their work, many foreign workers might not be registered with a GP.

“We suddenly thought what if these guys slip through the net,” said Kenny Brandie of The Fishermen’s Mission.

“And we thought it was important to arrange something with NHS Scotland to get them vaccinated.

“Because fishermen work in such close proximity on a fishing boat it’s unavoidable that they’re going to be in close contact. We just felt it was really important for the safety of everyone that they were given this opportunity to have it.”

Andrew Steele, the vaccination programme manager with NHS Grampian, said: “It’s been great to work with the mission on this. The idea is that everyone in the community is vaccinated, and the sooner we do that, the safer everyone will be.”

The majority of the migrant fishermen come from the Philippines, Ghana, Sri Lanka and Indonesia. They can spend up to a year at a time working in Scottish waters.

Peter Bruce is the skipper of the Budding Rose trawler, which has two Filipino crew.

“It’s great for the fishermen’s families back home as well, knowing that their loved ones are thousands of miles away from home but are being well looked after and have been vaccinated,” he told STV News.

“I would encourage all the fishing crews to all get vaccinated.”

The vaccine sessions for the fishermen to receive their first doses runs from now until the beginning of June.

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