Should Cruise Ships Offer Vaccinations

US CDC Cruise Ship Management of Acute Respiratory Illness
travel vaccine 2023
by Doc Lawson
Atlanta (Precision Vaccinations News)

While travel vaccination services are generally offered on land by clinics and pharmacies in the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently suggested these types of services could go-to-sea.

On December 18, 2023, the CDC published updated guidance for cruise ships managing Acute Respiratory Illnesses (ARI). 

This CDC document guides cruise ships originating from or stopping in the U.S. to help prevent, diagnose, and medically manage ARI caused by the SARS-CoV-2 betacorinavirus, influenza, or Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).

It also provides guidance for preventing the spread of ARI during and after a voyage, including personal protective measures for passengers and crew members and control of outbreaks.

The CDC says cruise ship management and medical staff must be flexible in identifying and caring for people with ARI. A healthcare provider’s assessment is always essential to decisions about the need for further medical evaluation, testing, and treatment.

CDC recommends that efforts to reduce the spread of respiratory viruses on cruise ships focus on encouraging crew members and passengers to do the following:

  • Six months and older to get a flu shot,
  • Six months and older to stay up to date with their COVID-19 vaccination,
  • Adults 60 years and above should discuss RSV vaccination options with their healthcare provider and
  • Follow recommendations for young children to receive monoclonal antibody products (Beyfortus™) to prevent severe RSV.

In addition to these ARIs, the CDC recognizes that cruise ships travel worldwide, necessitating awareness of and responsiveness to local jurisdictional requirements.

The CDC publishes Travel Health Notices (THN) to alert international travelers, inform people about local health risks, and offer advice about preventing infection.

Cruise ship passengers may be exposed to mosquito-transmitted diseases, such as dengue when visiting specific ports of call.

The CDC recently issued Level 1, Practice Usual Precautions THN regarding dengue outbreaks in the Americas, Africa/Middle East, and Asia/Pacific Islands.

Depending upon location, various countries have approved dengue vaccines for certain people.

As of December 19, 2023, an updated list of travel diseases and vaccination options was posted by Precision Vaccinations.

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