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Doctors in Cape Town. Nov. 18, 2021 — Disney Cruise Line updated its COVID protocols on Wednesday, saying all children 5 and up must be fully vaccinated to board a ship starting Jan. 13, 2022.

Disney already requires all passengers 12 and up to provide proof they’re fully vaccinated before boarding.

Before Jan. 13, all passengers 5-11 must provide a negative result on a COVID test taken between 3 days and 24 hours before departure, according to the Disney Cruise Line website.

Passengers under 4 must keep providing a negative result for a COVID test.

Forbes reported that most major cruise lines have vaccination requirements for passengers who are age-eligible for the vaccine but few other than Disney have extended the requirement to young children. Norwegian Cruise Lines requires all passengers and crews to be fully vaccinated.

The Disney Cruise Line policy change reflects the Nov. 2 decision by the federal government to grant emergency use authorization to the Pfizer vaccine for children 5 and up.

Cruise ships were hotspots for COVID outbreaks during the early days of the pandemic and the industry shut down during the latter part of 2020. Since resuming operations this summer, cruise ships have followed the CDC’s “conditional sail order” that requires COVID-19 prevention measures and a simulation cruise to test safety protocols before allowing passengers on board.

The CDC says it won’t enforce those COVID-prevention rules as of Jan. 15, meaning it will be up to cruise lines to decide what rules to impose on passengers, Forbes said.

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