Cyprus is preparing to vaccinate up to 40,000 seafarers on all ships sailing under the country's flags or under the management of companies in Cyprus.
According to an announcement from the Cyprus Ministry of Shipping, seafarers on board ships will be vaccinated wherever the ship is located.
Cyprus is also exploring the possibility of becoming a vaccine hub, the statement reads.
However, it will require international cooperation to gather excess vaccines from other countries, says the country's Deputy Minister of Shipping, Vassilios Demetriades.
"We remain committed to finding a realistic approach to a global maritime vaccine program. Responsibility starts at a national level," he says in the announcement.
The announcement comes at a time when there is widespread criticism of seafarers' working conditions and their difficulty accessing vaccines.
Most recently, trade union ITF issued a call to the shipping industry on Friday, the International Day of the Seafarer.
"Since the outbreak of the pandemic, hundreds of thousands of seafarers have been forced to work for weeks, months and – for some – even years beyond their initial contracts," ITF wrote, while also pointing to the difficulty in accessing vaccines.
Among other initiatives, the US has already launched a program in which seafarers on foreign ships have been offered the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which only requires one shot.
English Edit: L. N. Barnes