As the U.S. prepares to welcome international travelers from November 8, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has updated its vaccination guidance, allowing entry to anyone who has received mixed doses of FDA or WHO-approved COVID-19 vaccines -- good news for cruisers from Canada and other countries.
The CDC has now signed off on mix-and-match booster shots, and has relaxed guidance on mixing the original vaccine series, which was a practice already common in countries outside of the U.S., including Canada. a practice known as heterologous
According to the CDC, “Individuals can be considered fully vaccinated (at least) 2 weeks after receipt of the last dose if they have received any single dose of an FDA approved/authorized or WHO EUL approved single-dose series (i.e., Janssen), or any combination of two doses of an FDA approved/authorized or WHO emergency use listed COVID-19 two-dose series."
In response, Royal Caribbean Group brands Celebrity Cruises and Royal Caribbean, as well as Princess Cruises and Carnival, updated their guidance this week. The three cruise lines that make up Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings -- Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania and Regent Seven Seas -- have also followed suit.
Celebrity's policy says: "The CDC will now also recognize as fully vaccinated, all guests with a mixed series of any two of the following vaccines taken within a minimum of 28 days between doses: Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca, Sinovac or Sinopharm."
Royal's policy now states: "We accept a mixed vaccination series consisting of doses from different manufacturers, as long as your vaccine series meets the following requirements: Must consist of at least two doses of vaccines that are fully approved or authorized for emergency use by the U.S. FDA or the World Health Organization. The 2 doses must be administered at least 28 days apart*. The final dose must be completed at least 14 days before sailing."
Princess has similar guidance. A chart on its site indicates that passengers can have two doses of Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Sinopharm or Sinovac; one dose of Johnson & Johnson; or mixed doses of AstraZeneca with Moderna or Pfizer; and mixed doses of Pfizer and Moderna. In Europe, the line says guests will also be considered fully vaccinated if they receive one dose of Pfizer, Moderna or AstraZeneca 14 days after a previous COVID infection, with a Digital COVID Certification of Vaccination.
Crystal is telling its guests who have received mixed vaccines that they can sail "as long as the country we are operating in accepts them." It's up to the passengers to review the country requirements for their saiing to verify their vaccines are approved.
At present, some other lines stipulate that passengers who have received mixed doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are permitted to travel but not passengers who've received a mixed dose that includes the AstraZeneca vaccine.
This remains problematic for many Canadians and Europeans from countries where governments and health authorities have authorized this practice, including the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine as part of a mixed dose vaccination plan.