Port Canaveral First Port in U.S. to Support COVID-19 Vaccinations for Seafarers
Port Canaveral is the first U.S. port to sponsor COVID-19 vaccine distribution to port workers and vessel crew members in response to a Florida Public Health Advisory approved by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and Surgeon General Scott A. Rivkees, MD issued on April 29 expanding vaccine eligibility to include individuals who are in the state for purpose of providing good 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,” stated Capt. John Murray, Port CEO. “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.”
Port Canaveral developed its vaccination model in cooperation with the Parrish Healthcare Center at Cape Canaveral, Canaveral Fire Rescue, and cruise lines medical personnel. Up to 1,000 COVID-19 vaccination shots per day can be provided to vessel crew members, shoreside and waterside support personnel, which aligns with recommendations released this week by the federal Centers for Disease Control for a return to cruising in the U.S.
Port Canaveral officials consulted with the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and cruise line operators, as well as the CDC to develop its vaccination model to efficiently and expeditiously get vaccines disbursed to crew members and shoreside personnel. Ship operators responded positively to the expanded eligibility and vaccine doses were administered to personnel on Friday at the Port.
Yesterday, officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released new guidance, allowing cruise ships to sail with vaccinated crew and passengers as early as mid-July. The change to the restart timeline comes after a month of twice-weekly meetings between the CDC’s maritime team and the cruise industry and ports, including Port Canaveral.