Greece is expected to urgently join other countries around the world in commencing a special program to vaccinate merchant seamen and mariners against the Covid-19 virus, following stepped up lobbying by the shipping community — one of the biggest sources or remittances for the country.

The development comes after a relevant recommendation by Shipping Minister Yannis Plakiotakis, who was the recipient of several pressing proposals by ship-owners, companies and unions representing both ocean-going and coastal shipping, was approved by a national vaccination committee.

Among others, Capital Maritime founder and Chairman Vangelis Marinakis recently referred to the issue during his panel appearance at the Delphi Economic Forum, where he stressed that merchant seamen needed to get vaccinated, either in the country before boarding a vessel or at some major port around the world.

Beyond ocean-going shipping, Greece has a robust coastal shipping sector, with scores of passenger vessels and ferry boats plying numerous island routes and connecting straits, while dozens of cruise ship journeys are already scheduled for this summer in Greek waters.

According to reports that emerged on Tuesday, seafarers bound for ocean-going vessels will reportedly receive priority appointments for vaccinations; specific programs will cover crew-members per ferry boat, with vaccinations provided wherever possible.

The US, the Netherlands, Belgium and several other countries have already begun such prior vaccination programs for merchant seamen, while the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) recently issued a “road map” in order to contribute to the creation “vax hubs” for seafarers around the world.

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