Millions of Americans lined up at mass vaccination sites for their Covid-19 shots in the first half of 2021. But that wasn’t an option for some of the nation’s most vulnerable essential workers, the mariners who spend months at sea and can’t get to a regular land-based health-care facility.
Now, Florida’s Division of Emergency Management (FDEM) is addressing that challenge head-on by bringing the shots to the sailors. The state’s Port Everglades is one of five Florida seaports where mariners aboard cruise and cargo ships are receiving Covid-19 vaccinations through partnerships with the FDEM, Celebrity Cruises, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises, and Royal Caribbean International. The nonprofit Seafarers’ House at Port Everglades is also assisting in the effort by transporting health-care workers directly to ships dockside to administer the vaccines.
More than 1,570 mariners aboard some 25 cruise and cargo ships were vaccinated at Port Everglades in the second and third weeks of May, according to port officials. The program is scheduled to continue throughout June and is open to all port workers and those who conduct business at the port.
“We are grateful to the state of Florida and our cruise line partners for making the vaccines available to those at sea,” Jonathan Daniels, Port Everglades’ chief executive and port director, said in a release. “This is a vital humanitarian effort to reach crew members who often don’t have access to landside medical facilities.”