Port Canaveral in Florida became the first port to start distributing COVID-19 vaccines, officials announced.
Crew members and port workers were able to get vaccinated on Friday, and port officials said up to 1,000 shots could be given per day through the new vaccination model. The effort could expedite cruise ships departures from the sunshine state and comes after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced operators could resume sailing by mid-July.
“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,” Capt. John Murray, Port CEO, said in a statement.
The vaccine distribution at Port Canaveral was approved by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Florida’s Surgeon General Scott A. Rivkees who broadened vaccine eligibility to individuals in Florida providing goods or services for residents and tourists. Port Canaveral has been working closely with cruise partners, the Florida Department of Health, and the port community to create a plan and timeline of vaccinating cruise ship crews that could help operators resume safely, Murray said.
Last week, the CDC told cruise industry members passengers will once again be able to set sail by mid-July if operators can show that 98% of crew members and 95% of travelers are fully vaccinated, among other guidelines.