Belgium has started its vaccination campaign for seafarers, becoming the first EU country to start seafarer vaccination.
The vaccinations are currently taking place in the Port of Antwerp and will also be carried out in the Port of Zeebrugge in a few days. Around 2,200 seafarers will have been vaccinated in the course of the month.
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. Belgium is the first country in Europe to vaccinate seafarers. In this way, we can guarantee the continuous operation of shipping
said Minister Van Quickenborne.
In addition, Dr Rob Verbist, the General Practitioner of Mediport, who is responsible for carrying out the vaccinations in Antwerp together with his team, explained that seafarers aged 41 years and more are receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, of which only one dose is needed. Younger persons are receiving the Pfizer vaccine, according to the recently introduced age limit. This group will have to return within 5 weeks for a second shot.
A recent survey by the Bahamas Maritime Authority showed that 87% of the respodents are still to receive a first vaccine.
Considering the low numbers of vaccinated seafarers, ECSA and ETF drew the attention of the Ministers of Transport to the recently adopted ILO Resolution on COVID-19 vaccination for seafarers.
Before this call, on the 21st of April 2021, ETF and ECSA issued a Joint Statement on the recognition of seafarers as key workers that reiterates their previous calls for seafarers’ prompt vaccination.
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