Several US cruise lines have updated their policies to ban passengers on cruises from the US who have been inoculated against Covid-19 with mixed vaccine types.
However, the changes do not appear to affect UK passengers on this summer’s season of ‘seacation’ cruises around the UK.
News of the changes was first reported by Cruise Critic which said that Holland America Line, Norwegian Cruise Line and Princess Cruises modified their health and safety protocols to exclude those who had received mixed doses of Covid-19 vaccines.
The report said: “The move has left many Canadians and Brits who received mixed doses alongside AstraZeneca upon the recommendations of their home countries wondering what will happen to their cruises.”
It has since emerged that Carnival protocols also require both jabs to be of the same type for passengers on cruises departing from the US.
Princess Cruises is due to start its series of ‘seacations’ from Southampton for vaccinated Brits on Regal and Sky Princess later this month.
On the advice section for the UK cruises, it said: “The definition of ‘vaccinated’ is a minimum of 14 days following the second dose of the currently approved COVID-19 vaccines being administered and 14 days following the recently approved single-dose Janssen COVID-19 vaccine being administered.”
Proof of vaccination can be either in digital or printed format and must be an official certificate of vaccine status issued by a local health authority eg NHS England.
However, the policy is different for US cruises. It says: “Guests who have received one single dose of a vector vaccine (e.g. AstraZeneca) and one single dose of a mRNA vaccine (e.g. Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna) will not be considered fully vaccinated. Guests who have received two single doses of mixed vaccines that are the same type (e.g., mRNA) will be considered fully vaccinated and will be permitted to sail, so long as the final dose is received at least 14 days prior to the beginning of the cruise.”
Norwegian Cruise Line also has different policies for vessels in the US and outside the US.
It said: “US Based Vessels will accept any U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and/or World Health Organisation (WHO) authorised single brand vaccination protocol. Including, J&J Janssen, Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca/Oxford. Mixed vaccination protocol will not be accepted (i.e. Pfizer + Moderna or AstraZeneca + Pfizer, etc).
“All Other Vessels will accept any U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), European Medicines Agency (EMA), or World Health Organisation (WHO) authorised single brand vaccination protocol. Or a mixed vaccination protocol of only AstraZeneca-SK Bio, Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna combinations.
“Vaccines received via clinical trials will not be accepted as they do not specify vaccine received.”
Holland America Line will resume sailing in the Mediterranean next month and from California in the autumn.
Its policy said: “Guests who have received one single dose of a vector vaccine (e.g. AstraZeneca) and one single dose of a mRNA vaccine (e.g. Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna) will not be considered fully vaccinated.
“Guests who have received two single doses of mixed vaccines that are the same type (e.g., both are mRNA) will be considered fully vaccinated and will be permitted to sail.”
The Carnival policy says: “For cruises departing the U.S., the CDC requires both vaccines in a 2-dose series to be of the same type. They also accept mixing mRNA vaccines only (Pfizer and Moderna). No other vaccine combination meets the criteria to be considered fully vaccinated. So, for example, Canadian or other international guests who received a combination of AstraZeneca and Pfizer are considered unvaccinated by the CDC.
“Guests who are not fully vaccinated, according to these criteria, will be considered unvaccinated and need to apply for a vaccination exemption.”
A recent BBC report about a UK medical trial of a “mix-and-match approach” to Covid vaccines found the strategy “appears to give good protection”.
The Com-Cov study looked at giving the doses four weeks apart in 850 volunteers aged 50 and above.
Mixing doses could offer greater flexibility for a booster programme and support countries which have further to go with their vaccine programmes, said the report.
Furthermore, some younger people are being offered Pfizer or Moderna mRNA vaccines as a second dose after receiving a first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine, following concerns about rare but serious blood clots.