Taking to the sea to make cruising safe again (video)

By The Health News Team | June 18, 2021

Sharp HealthCare is making it easy for cruise ship crews in San Diego to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

In May, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released new guidance for cruise ships, which states if 98% of crewmembers and 95% of passengers are fully vaccinated, they could resume operations as soon as July.

Previously, the CDC enacted a no sail order in March 2020, docking many cruise ships and having a major impact on San Diego’s tourism industry. As the third busiest cruise port in California, San Diego had 164 canceled cruises since the order, accounting for a loss of roughly $280 million in regional economic activity, affecting local businesses and government.

As part of a larger effort to make it safe to resume cruising and improve the local tourism industry, Sharp HealthCare collaborated with Holland America Line, Princess Cruises and the Port of San Diego in May to provide COVID-19 vaccines to nearly 450 crewmembers, both in port and at sea. The endeavor was organized and facilitated by Sharp Global Patient Services.

“This came about from a long relationship that we’ve had with the cruise lines, in particular with Carnival Cruise Line, and we’ve been part of their medical support team,” says Hugo Barranco-Garcia, manager of operations for Sharp Global Patient Services. “Having those relationships really allowed us to be sought after as a provider that would be able to partner with them and help vaccinate their crewmembers so they can resume cruising.”

The process began May 19 at the Port of San Diego, where 126 crewmembers of the Holland America Line’s Koningsdam received their first dose of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine. Later, the Sharp vaccination team traveled by boat to the Royal Princess anchored off the coast of San Diego and vaccinated 144 crewmembers. The next day, they administered the vaccine to 179 crewmembers on Holland America Line’s Noordam.

“It was very emotional, it was very uplifting,” says Elizabeth Catton, vice president of Sharp Global Patient Services. “We were proud to be part of that experience with this group, and very proud to represent Sharp HealthCare and be able to provide these services.”

Sharp HealthCare’s work with the cruise lines marks the start of its initiative to collaborate with other industries in administering the COVID-19 vaccine as widely as possible.

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