Belgium on Monday launched a Covid-19 vaccination program for foreign sailors at its bustling ports. Officials have said that medical teams would be boarding ships for inoculations.
About 80,000 sailors on over 5,500 vessels have been estimated to arrive at Belgium’s North Sea ports of Zeebrugge, Antwerp, and Ghent each year.
The Belgium ministry, which is in charge of maritime affairs said that the initiative aims to give the hard-to-reach groups the chance to be vaccinated.
The ministry pointed to the risks sailors encounter owing to Covid outbreaks like spending long periods in confined spaces. It also added that many seafarers have arrived from countries where vaccines are still not available widely.
The seafarers will be administered the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine on offer for free.
Germany and the US have been offering vaccinations to foreign sailors. But, per what authorities have said, Belgium will be the first country to provide them aboard ships.
Belgium’s vaccination rate has been one of the highest in the European Union (EU), and so far more than 83% of adults in the country have taken at least a dose, and 67% are completely vaccinated.