Written by By Lanette J. Jackson, CNN
When you buy tickets to a Disney Cruise Line vacation, you can expect to spend your days climbing an inner tube, playing in a splash pad, swimming in an outdoor pool and sipping beverages provided by the very best in mixology.
But now, you may not be able to relax for too long when you return to shore. The company announced this week that all passengers booked on voyages between June 22 and Sept. 3 who are between the ages of 5 and 18, and above 50 years old, will have to get vaccinated against measles.
“We have high standards and require that all of our guests be vaccinated against measles, mumps and rubella before they are allowed to book with us,” says Meg Crofton, senior vice president of Walt Disney Cruise Line, on a post on the company’s website.
“Because of this, all of our passengers scheduled on this cruise itinerary who aren’t up to date with their Measles, Mumps and Rubella vaccination must have their passport card in their stateroom to make their vacation possible.”
Measles, mumps and rubella vaccination is required for children under the age of 12 months, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but some family-owned cruise ships that do not require all passengers to get their vaccinations are making children younger than that eligible for cruise tickets.
The Disney Cruise Line’s requirements apply to both shorter cruises (2,076-mile port calls and longer cruises are exempt) and longer journeys such as 17-day cruises from Rio de Janeiro to Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Worldwide health authorities are seeing increases in measles cases, as well as cases of mumps, rubella and a form of the Pertussis bug, which is also known as pertussis.
“Measles is still a real threat globally,” said Dr. Anne Schuchat, a top CDC official. “Measles is now endemic in 81 countries. The most recent outbreaks of measles have primarily occurred in Central America and South America.”
The introduction of the rubella-containing vaccine, which is no longer required, in 1957 and the introduction of the measles-only vaccine in 1963 have led to a decline in the number of cases over the past two decades. But vaccinations against measles and mumps are still needed for people who are too young to get the rubella-only vaccine or who don’t have a full immune system.
Mumps has surged over the past few years. Over a million cases of mumps were reported in the United States in 2014. As of mid-June this year, six people had been hospitalized and 16 had been diagnosed with mumps in this year, according to the CDC. And because this is the first year for cases that have had the added benefit of immunity from the measles-containing mumps vaccine, it is also a time when some cases can spread.