Belgium is the first country to provide this service. File Image / Pixabay
The Belgian authorities are setting up a programme to vaccinate foreign seafarers arriving at the country's ports against COVID-19.
From Monday medical teams at Belgian ports have started visiting foreign ships to provide the vaccines, the Royal Belgian Shipowners' Association said in an emailed statement.
Belgium is the first country to provide this service, and the programme may go some way towards preventing the spread of COVID-19 via the shipping industry. Several leading figures in shipping have called for priority access to vaccines for seafarers.
"These seafarers live at sea in closed groups for extended periods - a precarious situation should there be a COVID-19 outbreak onboard," the Royal Belgian Shipowners' Association said.
"With the vaccine, we are offering seafarers the certainty that they can carry out their profession under its unique circumstances in a safe manner, and that they are able to travel smoothly and securely to foreign ports."