Florida’s Port Canaveral started vaccinating port workers and cruise ship crew in an effort to boost the eventual restart of the cruise industry in the state.
The first U.S. port to sponsor COVID-19 vaccine distribution, Port CEO Capt. John Murray said in a statement on Friday, the move follows a Florida public health advisory that extended vaccine eligibility to people in the state who provide “goods or services for the benefit of residents and visitors of the State of Florida.”
“We have been working closely with our cruise partners, the Florida Department of Health, and our port community to come up with a plan and timeline of vaccinating cruise ship crews that could begin the process for a safe return to cruising,” Capt. Murray said. “This expanded eligibility is significantly important for our cruise tourism business, and we’re proud of our efforts to help get this industry up and running.”
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Port Canaveral has the ability to distribute up to 1,000 vaccine shots per day to crew members, shoreside, and waterside support personnel. To develop the program, the port consulted with the CDC, the U.S. Coast Guard, Customs and Border Protection, and cruise line operators.
The decision comes as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it was “committed” to getting the U.S. cruise industry up and running by mid-July, and that cruise lines can skip test sailings if 98% of crew and 95% of passengers on their ships are fully vaccinated. It also comes weeks after the agency recommended all crew and passengers get the jab before boarding.
The CDC has also said vaccinated Americans can travel domestically and internationally without the need to quarantine.
While the U.S. cruise industry remains on pause, several cruise lines have announced a restart of operations in ports across the world, including in the Caribbean and Greece, and many are requiring proof of vaccination to board.