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PortMiami Workers Drive Up For COVID-19 Vaccinations At Cruise Terminal

Natasha Wright gives Humberto Crespo his drivers license back, as he sits in a truck, after checking him in for his COVID-19 vaccine on April 28, 2021 at PortMiami terminal A.
Verónica Zaragovia
Natasha Wright gives Humberto Crespo his drivers license back after checking him in for his COVID-19 vaccine on April 28, 2021 at PortMiami terminal A.

This post has been updated.

The cruise industry has been stalled for most of the pandemic, and many cruise workers have lost their jobs.

Officials at PortMiami made the case, at a vaccination event Wednesday, that vaccines against COVID-19 are vital to its comeback.

"The quicker we get more people vaccinated, the quicker we'll be able to restart cruising," said PortMiami director Juan Kuryla. "Cruising is such an important factor to the Miami-Dade economy."

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The event was also aimed at working around the busy and unpredictable schedules of port employees, by bringing the shots to their workplace.

"People that are working at the port, maybe they have a 10-minute break, 15-minute break, and they work all kinds of crazy hours," Kuryla said.

Following Wednesday's event, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told cruise companies that passenger voyages from the U.S. could potentially restart in mid-July, if cruise lines comply with the CDC's conditional sailing order. The CDC informed the companies of the change in a letter sent Wednesday night, according to our news partners at the Miami Herald. The order has requirements around issues like testing, medical facilities and simulated voyages.

Earlier this month, Florida took legal action against the CDC over the decision to halt cruising in the U.S. cruise industry due to the pandemic.

On Thursday, Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava tweeted support for the cruise industry.

Maranda Sweeting was at the site working for Nomi Health to help check people in for their shots.

"I have had a few people ask me questions — people are nervous," Sweeting said. "People are unsure. People are scared. I understand that there is fear. That is 100% OK. I want people to ask me questions. I want people to be concerned about their health. That is what we're here for."

Humberto Crespo said he had no fears about getting the vaccine but about getting the side effects of the disease again.

"I got COVID-19 in December, and one has to wait a few months to be able to get the vaccine after having it," Crespo, 68, said. He works at the cargo terminal. "Doctors say you could get COVID-19 a second time and I don't want that ... I don't want that. It attacked me in the stomach and believe me, I had a rough time."

Natasha Wright who checked him in told him he would just need to stay in the car to get his shot.

"You don't get to get off and dance," she said, teasing him.

"I like the idea to dance, maybe one of you wants to dance with me?" he said, chuckling as he drove through for his shot.

Daniella Levine Cava.jpg
Verónica Zaragovia
Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava speaks at a press conference during a vaccination event at PortMiami on April 28, 2021.

Soon people will be able to make their own appointments online through the county, rather than await a call or email to set it up. Miami-Dade County also has plans to organize vaccinations at the airport in May and for employees of hotels and restaurants.

"Some are very eager to get it but they might not be able to take time off from work or they might not have the transportation or they might not have access to the internet — we're doing everything we can and we want your ideas. You tell us where are people gathered," Levine Cava said. "We are here to put shots in arms. My new motto is no arms left behind."

This story has been updated to reflect potential changes in the cruise industry.

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Verónica Zaragovia was born in Cali, Colombia, and grew up in South Florida. She’s been a lifelong WLRN listener and is proud to cover health care, as well as Surfside and Miami Beach politics for the station.