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Dannie and Sharron Sheppard were forced to call off their first trip in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving their children Niamh and Ewan having to wait another year. As conditions improved, the family from the Midlands booked another trip with P&O cruises, due to set off in April 2022.
The trip would have seen the family of four head on a cruise around the Mediterranean visiting France, Spain and Portugal.
However, the excitement of the trip came to an abrupt end when P&O changed their policy on Covid vaccines.
The new rules meant 12-year-old Niamh no longer fell into the category of being able to travel onboard the cruise ship.
At the time of booking, P&O stated all travellers aged five to seventeen needed to either be fully vaccinated against the virus or show evidence of a negative PCR test within 120 hours of travel.
Yet, with company rules changing on February 22, conditions now mean all passengers over the age of 12 need to be fully jabbed up to 14 days prior to sailing dates.
The Sheppard’s had to cancel their holiday for a second year in a row (Image: SWNS)
The rules have changed on P&O Cruises ships (Image: Getty)
Young Niamh only turned 12 on March 4, so she won’t be able to get both of her jabs before the cruise departs on April 16 – just seven weeks after her birthday.
Medics informed the unhappy traveller safety measures did not allow for the second jab to be rushed ahead of schedule.
Upon calling P&O and explaining the situation Ms Sheppard was told Nimah would not be allowed on board the ships, and hence, the family would have to cancel their holiday.
The family were left devastated and felt angry the jab policy had been changed – despite Niamh not having to be vaccinated to visit France, Spain or Portugal.
The company are sorry for any disappointment (Image: Getty)
Naimg couldn’t get both vaccines done in a short time to make the trip (Image: SWNS)
Speaking to local media, Ms Sheppard said: “Niamh can meet the vaccination status required for all the countries the cruise visits and the requirements for re-entering the UK at the end.
“The policy wording has produced an absurd and unfair result, but P&O have been very strict to stick to its policy, even in the face of common sense.”
A spokesperson for P&O Cruises said: “We are so sorry for the disappointment this has caused.
“We have worked with public health, port and government authorities around the world to create a framework of protocols to protect the health and wellbeing of the crew, guests and the communities we visit.
“We also need a vaccination policy which meets the entry requirements for all our ports of call around the world.
“We are very sorry they will be unable to travel but would love to welcome them on board in the future.”
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Neither France, Portugal or Spain have the same rules as P&O Cruises, all ports of call for the trip (Image: Getty)
According to the NHS, “The coronavirus vaccines are safe and effective. 2 doses are being offered to children aged 12 to 15 to give them the best protection against COVID-19.
“COVID-19 is usually mild in most children, but it can make some children unwell.
“1 dose of the COVID-19 vaccine gives good protection against your child getting seriously ill.
“But 2 doses gives stronger and longer-lasting protection.
“Children can get a 1st dose of the vaccine from the day they turn 12.
“Most children can get the 2nd dose from 12 weeks after they had their 1st dose.”
Have you had to cancel your trip for a similar reason? Should all children now be vaccinated? What are your thoughts on P&O after recent events? Let us know by CLICKING HERE and joining the conversation in the comments section below – Every Voice Matters!
The NHS says vaccines are safe for children (Image: Getty)
In total, 141 million doses of the vaccine have been given out in the UK, with 73.4 percent of the population fully vaccinated against Covid.
Worldwide, 11.2 billion doses have been administered and seeing 57.9 percent of the global population being considered fully vaccinated.