Long Beach wraps up COVID vaccine program for mariners

(LONG BEACH, Calif.) — A Port of Long Beach COVID-19 vaccination program for mariners aboard cargo vessels calling in San Pedro Bay wrapped up at year’s end after delivering nearly 12,000 shots to sailors.

The program operated by the Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services in partnership with the port and the National Guard offered free, onboard COVID-19 vaccinations beginning in the spring of 2021 for any cargo ships’ crews berthing in San Pedro Bay.

During the program’s 1½-year run, 11,766 crewmembers on 1,275 ships voluntarily received the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine at no charge. In the Port of Long Beach alone, 5,971 crewmembers on 684 ships received vaccines. The program came to an end on Dec. 31.

Port of Long Beach photo

The program helped protect the health of workers throughout the supply chain, helping to ensure the delivery of essential goods during the pandemic. Long Beach Health and Human Services dispatched mobile COVID-19 vaccination units to visit ships’ crews aboard docked vessels at both the Port of Long Beach and the Port of Los Angeles. The Long Beach Fire Department also helped administer vaccinations when health officials were needed elsewhere.

“We are proud to have sponsored free vaccines for sailors visiting the port. The port is about more than just moving cargo, it’s about the people who move the cargo and keeping them healthy and safe,” said Port of Long Beach Executive Director Mario Cordero. “We’d also like to thank our Port of Long Beach staff, the Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services, the Long Beach Fire Department and former Mayor and Congressman-elect Robert Garcia for the collaboration and leadership on the ship vaccination program.”

“We are so pleased to have vaccinated so many international seafarers, many of whom had no opportunity to be vaccinated in their home countries,” said Long Beach Harbor Commission President Sharon Weissman. “The Long Beach community – the port, the city, terminal operators and dockworkers – were able to help mariners coming to both our port and the Port of Los Angeles. Together, we had a global impact in fighting the spread of COVID.”

— Port of Long Beach

By Rich Miller