On 1st June, Belgium launched a program to vaccinate seafarers, becoming the first country in the EU to do so. By this initiative, it joined the list of several countries vaccinating its seafarer community on a priority basis before the general population.
A vaccination program is underway in the Port of Antwerp and will soon start in the Port of Zeebrugge. The Deputy Prime Minister and Vincent Van Quickenborne, the Belgian Minister of Justice were present when the vaccination began, a program that intends to vaccinate around 2,200 seafarers by the end of June.
Van Quickenborne added, “With a vaccine, we are not only offering Belgian seafarers the security to work in those unique circumstances, but also the ability to travel safely and smoothly to foreign ports.”
Johnson & Johnson (single dose) is being administered to seafarers who are more than 40 years old and young seafarers are receiving a dual shot Pfizer vaccine within 5 weeks as per Dr. Ron Verbist (General Practitioner, Mediport), the program supervisor for the ambitious program.
June can also witness a vaccination program by the Dutch government for seafarers sailing on Dutch-flagged ships. As per reports, 49,000 vaccines (single dose) will be available for seafarers, regardless of their nationality. The program is expected to last several months to ensure that every seafarer returning home or joining a ship is immunized.
Major ports in the US were also seen to contribute their efforts in vaccinating seafarers through port-based clinics, vaccinating the crew members of the vessels arriving. Governors of California, Maryland, New York, and Washington received letters on 2nd June from Louis Sola (Commissioner, Federal Maritime) urging the need to vaccinate seafarers working on cruise lines.
According to a Bahamas Maritime Authority (BMA) survey, 87% of the seafarer community are yet to be fully vaccinated. The survey also revealed that 86% would not miss a chance to get vaccinated and 65% of them admitted that vaccination would make them feel safe as per BMA reports.