Disney cruise line becomes first to mandate COVID-19 vaccines for kids

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Disney Cruise Line became the first major passenger ship to require proof of a COVID-19 vaccine for passengers as young as five, sparking fury among families who say they’ve canceled trips over the mandate.

The entertainment giant quietly updated its vaccine requirements Wednesday, saying that guests aged five and older must be fully-vaccinated at the time of departure beginning January 13.

‘As we set sail again, the health and safety of our Guests, Cast Members and Crew Members is a top priority,’ Disney said on its website. ‘Our focus remains on operating our ships in a responsible way that continues to create magic for all on board.’

But not everyone is keen on the new rules.

Fans began spamming Disney Cruise’s Facebook posts with comments of displeasure, with one mom sniping: ‘my son doesn’t need to be vaccinated and risk myocarditis or worse just for a cruise.’

Added another parent: ‘Canceled our cruise for 10. Not vaccinating the kids.’

Disney Cruise Line became the first major passenger ship to require proof of a COVID-19 vaccine for passengers as young as five

The FDA on October 29 authorized the emergency use of the Pfizer vaccine for children aged five and up, but some parents aren't planning to have their children inoculated 

Vaccine mandates for children have been a hot button topic for months, and the issue became even more contentious after the FDA on October 29 authorized the emergency use of the Pfizer vaccine for children aged five through 11.

Just days later, the FDA said it would delay its decision on whether children aged 12 to 17 should receive the Moderna vaccine to determine whether the shot increases the risk of a rare side effect that impacts kids hearts.

The drug maker has not yet sought approval for the younger age category.

Several countries, from Nordic nations to Japan, voiced concerns that the Moderna vaccine increased the risk of myocarditis - an inflammation of the heart muscle that rarely after vaccination -in men ages 18 to 30.

Disney fans say the company its tarnishing its magical reputation as a family-friendly destination.

‘Requiring children to take the potentially deadly experimental biologics jab to sail is awful,’ one person commented on Facebook.

‘We will never give you a dime. You aren’t worth the lives of my children.’

Some Twitter users shared their disdain for Disney's vaccine mandate, with one calling it unnecessary and another predicting the company's profits will decline

Disney did not respond to a DailyMail.com request for comment.

While the company has it critics, it also drew the praise of parents who believe the company made the right choice.

‘They do not make the decision who gets vaccinated,’ said one Facebook user. ‘They do decide what steps they wish to take in order to keep passengers safe. If it means keeping off [anti-vax] losers like you, great!’

Added Twitter user @StaceyHopeSmall: This should be standard protocol for hotels, cruises and planes at this point.’

At least 2.6 million children aged five to 11 have received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, White House COVID-19 coordinator Jeff Zients said Wednesday.

It means 10 percent of people in that age category have begun the vaccination process about two weeks after the Pfizer vaccine received FDA approval.

Those who don’t plan to have their children inoculated said a Disney cruise vacation is not going to change their mind.

‘If you think I'm going to vaccinate my five-year-old grandchild so we can go on your cruise you're wrong,’ a Facebook user told the company.

Disney said it would start enforcing the mandate in January. Children younger than four will be required to get tested before boarding

‘Disney does not make the decisions for my family will go to another cruise line.’

Other cruise lines have so far stopped short of requiring the jab for children.

Carnival Cruise ships is offering a limited number of exemptions to children and medically compromised passengers until next April, but generally requires those 12 and older to show proof of inoculation.

Royal Caribbean requires those 12 and older to have the jab.

Other passenger ship companies will likely embrace mandates for younger age groups going forward, travel reporter Lebawit Lily Girma told Reuters.

‘Disney Cruise Line’s new vaccination mandate for kids is likely to boost consumer confidence from the family segment, which has been largely reluctant to return to cruising post-pandemic,’ she said.

‘It’s likely other cruise lines will follow as cruises plan to resume operations and sailing at larger capacities in 2022.’

Disney will require children younger than five to show a negative COVID-19 test before boarding. 

Its vaccine policy does allow medical and religious exemptions. 

 One Twitter user said the mandate is unlikely to end well for Disney.

'I can't imagine this works out well for the Disney cruise line,' she tweeted. 'Forced vaccines and when profits decline, increased ticket pricing for the vaccinated.'