FULL DOSE. A total of 1,506 seafarers received their second shots of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine at the San Andres Sports Complex in Manila on Thursday (July 8, 2021). Most said their faith and the vaccine will help them face their fears while at work. (PNA photo by Marita Moaje)

MANILA – The coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic has been a most trying time for seafarers and their families who rely on them.

To overcome their fears, they have their gods to turn to and vaccines to protect them against the dreaded disease.

Marco Manuel Tan, 25, had to overcome his fear of needles to continue working for a passenger ship that usually travels around Asia.

Sa mga natatakot magpa-vaccine, natatakot din ako dati. Hanggang ngayon nga natatakot pa din ako. Takot talaga ako sa karayom pero kailangan natin ‘to para lahat tayo maging safe (To those who are afraid, I admit I was afraid, too. I have a fear of needles but we all need this so that we could all be safe),” he told the Philippine News Agency in an interview at the San Andres Sports Complex vaccination site in Manila on Thursday.

Tan was among the 1,506 seafarers who received their second dose of the Pfizer vaccine.

Iloilo native and Covid-19 survivor Jun Basenan said he availed of the vaccine for his peace of mind, especially after hearing that even a vaccinated person may still get infected.

Una para sa sarili mo kasi syempre alam mo na vaccinated ka na hindi ka na matakot sa virus kasi dati nag-positive na rin ako. Naantala yung alis ko. Syempre antay ka na naman ng next port. Perwisyo sa iyo at sa pamilya mo (First for yourself, because you know that you are already vaccinated. You will fear the virus less. I once tested positive for the virus. My flight was delayed and I needed to wait for the next port. It was inconvenient for me and my family),” he recalled.

He said he was full of regrets when he contracted the virus last year.

Siguro may hindi finollow na protocol. Nagsisi din ako na baka kinulang ako sa pag-iingat kasi gala din ako ng gala noon. Ngayon nag-iingat na ko (Maybe I forgot to follow protocols. I had regrets that maybe, I got careless because I was always out. Now, I am more careful),” he said.

His perceived carelessness affected his family and he had to apply for loans, which he is still paying, to support his family.

Now fully protected with two doses, he is waiting for his deployment.

Hindi ako natatakot na umalis. Mas nakakatakot ‘pag wala kang trabaho ngayon. Importante may trabaho ka para may pambuhay ka sa pamilya. Harapin mo ‘yung virus. Kaya yan. Magpa-vaccine para kung dapuan ka man ng virus, kayang-kaya ng katawan mo (I am not afraid to leave. I am more afraid of losing work. It is important to work to support your family. Let’s face this virus. We can do it. Get vaccinated so that in case you get infected, your body can survive),” he said.

Eduardo Directo works in a restaurant on a cruise ship, a post that entails interacting with guests.

The pandemic affected his family and he has used up all his savings after work stopped.

He is set to leave by August or September for Germany where he will board the ship.

Basta meron kang bakuna, meron kang pananalig sa Panginoon, kaya ‘to. Basta laban lang (As long as you are vaccinated, you have faith in God, we can do it. Fight)!” Directo said.

Vaccines and following protocols will keep him safe, he added.

Suot pa rin ng mask, wash your hands, tapos may social distancing. Dapat aware pa rin. Hindi porke bakunado ka na okay na, lalo ngayon maraming bagong variant na naman (Wear your mask, wash your hands, then observe social distancing. We should not be complacent just because we are already vaccinated, especially now that there are new variants),” he said. (PNA)