Twenty-five minutes was all it took. I entered Centennial Hall on that Saturday afternoon, got my first COVID vaccination, waited 15 minutes to check for an adverse reaction, and walked out. Everyone of the volunteers and medical providers was friendly, efficient, and more than helpful. I walked back to my car with a renewed sense of why I love this community of Juneau, my hometown for 30 years.
I feel incredibly fortunate to have received the vaccine and am looking forward to the day when every Juneau resident who wants vaccinations can get them. Until that day, I firmly think it would be incredibly foolhardy to risk our health and that of visitors by allowing the mammoth foreign-flagged cruise ships to enter our port and off-load thousands of crew and passengers each summer day.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention requires cruise ship operators to get approval from local authorities before entering a port. Our city manager is currently working with other staff in Southeast Alaska ports and with industry representatives on what this COVID planning approval will look like. Careful COVID planning for the scores of out-of-town seasonal workers employed by non-local jewelry shops and souvenir shops must also be done.
Our local decision-makers cannot forget that we, the citizens, must have our say about this plan also. While I will be fully vaccinated by early February, most Juneauites may not receive their vaccines for months to come. Until every Juneau resident who wants the vaccine is fully immunized, cruise ships should not be welcomed in our small community.