Thursday,  September 29, 2022  1:32 am

“We are back!”: Celebrity updates policy on mixed doses to include AstraZeneca

“We are back!”: Celebrity updates policy on mixed doses to include AstraZeneca
Allan Brooks, director of market sales at Celebrity Cruises Canada. (Supplied)
Michael Pihach

Michael Pihach is an award-winning journalist with a keen interest in digital storytelling. In addition to PAX, Michael has also written for CBC Life, Ryerson University Magazine, IN Magazine, and Michael joins PAX after years of working at popular Canadian television shows, such as Steven and Chris, The Goods and The Marilyn Denis Show.

Celebrity Cruises has updated its guidance on mixed COVID-19 vaccines following the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) decision to accept international travellers who have mixed doses of any FDA or WHO-approved brand.

Earlier this week, Celebrity announced that all fully vaccinated Canadians are accepted to sail on board – including those with mixed vaccines between AstraZeneca, Moderna and Pfizer.

“For ALL sailings, including U.S. and Global Departures, the CDC will now recognize a mixed series of any two of the following vaccines, with a minimum of 28 days between doses, as fully vaccinated,” reads an updated “Healthy at Sea” FAQ posted to Celebrity’s website, listing Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca, Sinovac and Sinopharm as acceptable brands.

Guests who received Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) before or after another COVID-19 vaccine should be considered to have received a valid, single-dose Janssen vaccination—not a mixed vaccination series—and are considered fully vaccinated against COVID-19, the FAQ notes.

READ MORE: U.S. to accept mixed doses of vaccines from international travellers

To be recognized as fully vaccinated, guests 12 years of age and older must complete a vaccine series with the last dose administered at least 14 days prior to sailing.

Also: “Some ports of call may not accept mixed vaccines and therefore could prevent guests with mixed vaccines from going ashore,” reads the FAQ.

A chart outlines Celebrity's updated guidance on allowing mixed vaccines. (Celebrity)

Until now, Celebrity (and parent company Royal Caribbean Group) only recognized mixed combinations of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines (Pfizer/Moderna) – a decision that was made in September.

READ MORE: Royal Caribbean Group says yes to mixed Pfizer/Moderna vaccines for U.S sailings

It is not 100 per cent clear yet if all brands in the Royal Caribbean Group are currently accepting mixed dose regimens that include, for example, vaccines manufactured by AstraZeneca. 

Royal Caribbean International’s online FAQ, as of Wednesday morning (Oct. 20), has not been updated yet to reflect any changes, stating that guests whose two-shot regimen consists only of one mRNA dose with one AstraZeneca dose “will not be considered vaccinated” for cruises out of U.S. ports.

New possibilities 

Still, Celebrity’s own announcement will come as good news for travel advisors who have ready-to-sail clients who have booked, or who are interested in booking, a future cruise.

Travel advisor Maizy Alexander of The Travel Agent Next Door, in September, embraced Celebrity's first update about mixing mRNA vaccines.  

Celebrity Edge. (Celebrity Cruises)

However, in an interview with PAX at the time, she expressed concern over the exclusion of AstraZeneca because it prevented her from accompanying several groups that she had booked (Alexander received a combination of AstraZeneca and Pfizer).

In a follow-up comment on Wednesday, Alexander called Celebrity’s latest update “fabulous news.”

“It will allow my clients to join me on my groups,” Alexander told PAX. “This also opens up the possibilities of travelling the world.”

Allan Brooks, director of market sales at Celebrity Cruises Canada, said his team is “thrilled to hit this milestone” and “we are now ready to welcome all Canadians onboard.”

“Many of our ships have been sailing safely for months now and this announcement gets us all one step closer to a full return,” Brooks wrote PAX in an email Wednesday morning. “As always, we thank our loyal guests and travel partners for standing by us throughout this challenging time.”

“We are back!”

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