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More Floridians in favor of vaccination requirement to cruise, USF survey says

The results go against a Gov. DeSantis policy that bans businesses from asking for proof of vaccination in the state.

TAMPA, Fla. — To ask for proof of vaccination or not - that's been the question for months as the cruise industry gets ready to set sail again. A new survey now shows where Floridians stand.

Researchers from the University of South Florida set out to find that answer in a survey that aims to take a look at COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy in the state.

"Given obviously, the importance of COVID-19 and where we are in the progression of the pandemic, we wanted to ask folks about vaccination. Their attitudes about vaccine-related policies, any potential factors that might be making them hesitant to be vaccinated and so forth," Steve Neely, an Associate Professor at USF's School of Public Affairs said.

According to the data, a majority of adult Floridians have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, but many are still hesitant about getting the shot. Among those adults who have not yet been vaccinated, 35.3 percent say that they will “probably not” or “definitely not” get vaccinated. Another 24.3 percent are still undecided about getting the shot. 

The survey also asked them for their opinion on cruise lines requiring vaccination for COVID-19. Respondents were slightly more supportive of mandatory vaccines for cruise line passengers entering the state:

  • 43.0 percent said that proof of vaccination should be mandatory on all cruises porting in the state of Florida
  • 33.2 percent felt that the decision should be left to individual cruise lines

"What stood out to me as interesting was that a plurality of Republicans were in favor of leaving these decisions in the hands of private industries and not outright banning them," Neely said.

Despite recent test voyages where crew or passengers that were fully vaccinated tested positive for COVID-19, epidemiologists say ships can sail with the right precautions in place.

"As you take a huge population on a cruise ship with hundreds of individuals with a virus, it's still circulating very widely in the environment, we're gonna see cases. I would say it's a positive because we only sell two cases in that case. This time last year, we were talking about cruise ships with [200] or 300 cases on them, and really no tools to stop it at that point. And so I wouldn't take that as a negative," Epidemiologist Dr. Jill Roberts with USF Public Health said. 

As voyages start again, Roberts says she'd recommend people take cruises where 95-100 percent of the passengers and crew on board are vaccinated. She says cases could pop up, but that will be the risk anyone who wants to cruise accepts before setting sail.

Governor Ron DeSantis banned vaccine passports in the state two months ago by signing an executive order that applies to all government agencies and entities, as well as businesses in the state. For now some cruise lines have said they will defy DeSantis' order and require vaccinations.

RELATED: Royal Caribbean postpones Florida sailing after crew members test positive for COVID-19

RELATED: Some cruise lines vow to defy Florida's ban on proof of vaccination

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