Unvaccinated People Will Be Barred From Doing This, Starting Jan. 13
This new vaccine mandate could signal that a major change is coming soon.
The COVID vaccination process in the U.S. has evolved significantly over the past year. Just a few months ago, we did not have booster shots or the vast majority of vaccine mandates that are now in place. These mandates have stretched far and wide, affecting the places unvaccinated people can work, eat, and even visit. But most of these requirements were put in place before vaccines were available to children, since the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) only authorized Pfizer's pediatric vaccine for use in kids 5 to 11 on Oct. 29. Now, new vaccine mandates are factoring in children.
On Nov. 17, Disney Cruise Line updated its website with new vaccine guidelines, announcing that the company would soon be expanding its existing policy to a younger age. According to the update, Disney Cruise Line will require all guests ages 5 and up to be fully vaccinated against COVID at the time of sailing, starting Jan. 13. The company has required that all guests above the age of 12 provide proof of vaccination since Sept. 3, per Travel + Leisure.
"Guests who are not vaccine-eligible because of age must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test result (paid for by the Guest) taken between 3 days and 24 hours before their sail date," Disney Cruise Lines states on its website. "Guests ages 5 through 11 may complete this testing requirement in lieu of being fully vaccinated for sailings that depart before January 13, 2022."
Most major cruise lines have vaccination requirements in place already, according to Forbes. But Disney appears to be the first that has explicitly expanded its policy to include children—besides Norwegian Cruise Line, which has been prohibiting any unvaccinated people from sailing on its cruises, even if their age makes them ineligible for vaccination. Forbes reported that Royal Caribbean has yet to extend its vaccine mandate, and although Celebrity Cruises says all eligible guests must be vaccinated, its website still only specifies that the mandate includes those 12 and up.
This could be just the start of existing mandates being expanded to include younger ages. On Nov. 4, the city of San Francisco announced that it is planning to extend its pre-existing indoor vaccine mandate to children 5 to 11 years old, as reported by NBC News. The city has yet to announce an official date but said that San Franciscans should start preparing to show proof of vaccination for children in the coming months for indoor activities that already require it from everyone 12 and older, like restaurants, gyms, and sporting events.
"We definitely want to wait and make sure that children have an opportunity to get vaccinated," San Francisco Health Officer Susan Philip, MD, said during a Nov. 2 town hall, per NBC News. "That will happen no sooner than about eight weeks after the vaccine is available to kids. So there will be a limited time in which there will not be those requirements, but then at some point, 5- to 11-year-olds will also have to show proof of vaccination to access some of those same settings."
Other major cities with similar vaccine mandates, like New York City, have yet to make any indication as to whether or not they plan to expand requirements to kids younger than 12. But a new mandate just announced in New York City will affect children. Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Nov. 16 that everyone over the age of 5 will be required to be fully vaccinated in order to gather in the Times Square crowd on Dec. 31 for the city's iconic New Year's Eve celebration and ball drop.
"Attendees who are age 5 or over must present proof of COVID-19 vaccination to enter the event," the official website for Times Square reads. During a news conference, de Blasio added, "You're talking about a lot of people really close for long periods of time. It makes sense to protect everyone," per The New York Times.