COVID Info for Volunteers

The safety of our patients and crew is our highest priority. Below are answers to some commonly asked questions concerning our COVID-19 safety measures.

Is the COVID-19 vaccine required for volunteers serving on board?

As of 22 November 2023, the COVID vaccination is no longer required to serve with Mercy Ships.  

However, we do strongly advise all Mercy Ships personnel (including children) to be up to date with COVID-19 vaccine. 

Do I need a COVID-19 booster to serve on board?

As the vaccine is no longer required, neither is having a booster. However, we do strongly advise all Mercy Ships personnel (including children) to be up to date with COVID-19 vaccine. 

Will I have to wear a facemask?

The wearing of (K)N95 masks is required throughout the hospitals on our vessels during active field service. Crew do not have to wear facemasks unless inside the hospital or when patient-facing. N95 masks are always provided and required in the hospital.

Surgical or cloth masks are not accepted. 

How much interaction is there with the local population?

  • Day Crew – Mercy Ships typically employs roughly 200 local professionals to come alongside us while in field service, doing many different things – translation, cooking, transportation – you name it. We couldn’t do what we do without these dedicated “Day Crew”. The Day Crew will be performing their typical key functions and will be managed by each team as usual. There will be intermittent COVID-19 testing for our Day Crew. Any Day Crew that may contract COVID-19 will be quarantined in their homes until a negative COVID-19 test can be presented. Any crew found in subsequent contact tracing will also be informed and tested.

Is Mercy Ships testing to monitor COVID-19 cases on board?

Crew will no longer be required to test asymptomatically, except on embarkation and during an outbreak. Patients will still receive asymptomatic testing.

Any testing needed for crew before arrival is the responsibility of the crew member.

What happens if I get COVID while on board, and where would I be treated?

Any COVID-positive crew will be placed in a designated quarantine cabin for a minimum of five days and will be monitored by our crew clinic team. Mercy Ships will safely supply meals and other accommodations as needed. If someone develops an infection requiring hospitalization, we plan to treat our crew unless their condition requires care that would be better served in a local institution.

Those identified as close contacts to the COVID-positive crew will be tested, but will not be isolated, except families.

What COVID-related expenses does Mercy Ships cover for volunteers?

Mercy Ships covers:

  • Quarantine expenses
  • Any testing expenses incurred once on board

Mercy Ships does not cover:

  • Post-service quarantine expenses*

Does the Evacuation and Repatriation (E&R) insurance provided by Mercy Ships cover me if I am sick with COVID?

All crew are automatically enrolled in an evacuation and repatriation insurance policy through Talent Trust. Coverage for evacuation or repatriation due to COVID is included and covered in this policy. However, medical E&R is still subject to the governing travel regulations for any given country – meaning a COVID-positive patient can only be evacuated to a country that allows entry to COVID-positive travelers.

How often does Mercy Ships review COVID protocols to keep crew and patients safe?

Mercy Ships leadership reviews the protocols, regulations, and guidelines every day. We stay on top of any changes – be it infection rates, international travel issues, guidance from WHO and other trusted organizations, and closer to “home” – monitoring crew life on board! We weigh each decision and change carefully. Our commitment to keeping our crew and patients safe and healthy is the driving force of all decisions.

Where can I read more about the specific protocols Mercy Ships has developed to protect crew and patients from COVID-19?

After volunteers have received their official offer letters to join, they will be granted access to Navigator, our organizational intranet. Detailed policies, protocols, guidelines, and other information can be found there. Additionally, all volunteers must sign a COVID Acknowledgment Form to confirm they understand the protocols, regulations, testing requirements, and risks associated with volunteering during this season.

If you have further questions after reviewing this FAQ about these COVID regulations, please send an email to [email protected].