Florida governor rips CDC because cruise restart excludes kids

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T0614COCOCAYKIDS_HR [Credit: Royal Caribbean]
In 2019, kids play in the wave pool on CocoCay, Royal Caribbean's private destination in the Bahamas. Photo Credit: Royal Caribbean

The CDC’s requirement that 95% of passengers on cruise ships be vaccinated discriminates against families with children, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office said in a statement.

“The CDC is discriminating against families with children, preventing them from cruising,” the office said. “At this time, Covid-19 vaccines are not approved for children under 12, yet the CDC rules would require 95% of all passengers to be vaccinated. Approximately 30% of cruise passengers are children. It is not possible for families to enjoy a cruise vacation under these unlawful regulations -- they would either have to leave their children at home or forgo the vacation altogether.”

Test cruises are a mandatory part of the CDC's Conditional Sailing Order unless the cruise operator can attest that 95% of passengers and crew onboard have been vaccinated. The CDC on June 3 said it had approved eight cruise ships for simulated sailings so far.

DeSantis’ statement added that “by leaving children behind, the entire cruise industry would fundamentally change, excluding countless families. In 2017, the average cruise travel party had an average of more than two children and vacationers who took cruises were more likely (32%) to travel with their children than those who went on land-based (25%) vacations.”

The state cited CLIA data showing the average age of children in cruise travel parties being 6 to 12 years old.

“Moreover, Covid-19 is less dangerous for children than seasonal influenza; there is no scientific justification to mandate vaccination for young children,” the statement said.

The comments came as part Florida’s assertion that its failure to reach an out-of-court agreement with the CDC (Florida had sued the CDC over the CDC’s cruise ban) was despite “Florida’s sincere efforts to reach a compromise.”

The state of Florida has already called the CDC’s vaccine requirements unlawful and said that by requiring proof of vaccinations, cruise lines would violate Florida law that bans business from doing so. DeSantis doubled down on that position in its statement, saying that the law protects Floridians’ medical privacy.

He called the CDC’s 95% threshold a “ridiculous percentage for vaccinated cruise passengers” and “contrary to the President’s own benchmark for societal immunity. As a result, the CDC is once again proving itself to be a bureaucratic virus against science-based governance and plain old common sense.” 

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