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First cruise line announces 5-year-olds must be fully vaccinated to set sail

A child being vaccinated
A child being vaccinated   -   Copyright  AFP
By Nichola Daunton

Disney Cruises has become the first fleet to announce that children aged five and over must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to travel aboard their ships.

Guests aged four and under must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test, taken between 3 days and 24 hours before they set sail.

The new policy will come into effect on 13 January 2022 across all four Disney vessels.

What are the vaccination rules for Disney cruises?

For the little ones, the test must either be a NAAT test (Nucleic Acid Amplification Test), a rapid PCR test or a lab-based PCR test. Rapid antigen tests will not be accepted and all tests must be paid for by the guests themselves.

Any travellers aged 5 to 11 who set sail before 13 January 2022 must provide a negative test result too - if they are not fully vaccinated.

Children in the US aged 5 and over began receiving the Pfizer- BioNTech vaccine at the start of November, after its use was approved for young children by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Vaccines for children in Europe and UK

The new policy may prevent children in Europe and the UK from travelling aboard Disney cruises though, as the EU medicines regulator is still evaluating the use of Pfizer- BioNTech in children aged 5 to 11.

And in the UK, all COVID-19 vaccines are only being offered to children aged 12 and over.

Disney cruises has stated that it accepts the following vaccines: Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Covishield, Novavax, Sinopharm, and Sinovac vaccines.

All vaccinations must have taken place at least 14 days before departure on a Disney cruise.

What cruise lines require children to be vaccinated?

Although Disney is the first cruise line to announce an age-specific policy, it is not the first to state that all guests must be fully vaccinated.

Norwegian Cruise Line requires all of its guests and staff to be fully vaccinated, at least 14 days before departure. Their website states the benefits of a 100 per cent vaccinated cruise, including no social distancing and a mask-free environment.

Any children who are considered too young to be vaccinated according to guidelines from the FDA and the World Health Organization (WHO), or European Medicines Agency (EMA), are not allowed to travel with the cruise line.

It is expected that other cruise lines will soon follow Disney’s example and adopt a similar policy.