St. Lucia Provides Measles Vaccine for Quarantined Cruise Ship
On Thursday, the government of the island of St. Lucia provided the quarantined cruise ship Freewinds with 100 doses of measles vaccine after a request from the ship's physician. One female passenger aboard the cruise ship has been diagnosed with the highly contagious illness, and as a precautionary measure, St. Lucia's health authorities have banned the rest of the ship's complement from disembarking.
“Today, the ship’s doctor requested 100 doses of the measles vaccine and this is currently being provided from our supplies, at no cost,” said St. Lucia's chief medical officer, Dr. Merlene Fredericks-James.
The quantity provided would be adequate to vaccinate a large number of passengers. According to CDC guidelines, students of college age and below should receive two doses of MMR vaccine for effective prevention. Adults should receive at least one dose.
As of Thursday the Freewinds remains moored at the port of Castries, though she is not detained and is free to depart the port if her operator chooses. For now, the quarantine continues. "Continued surveillance is necessary as the incubation period for measles ranges from 10 to 12 days before symptoms in exposed persons occur,” said Dr. Fredericks-James.
The U.S.-based Church of Scientology has owned the Freewinds (ex name Bohème) since 1986. The group uses the vessel for themed cruises and for administering the top levels of its structured program of spiritual certification.
"The most advanced [Operating Thetan] level (New OT VIII) is exclusively entrusted to the [Freewinds]," Scientology says on its website. "To a Scientologist, boarding the Freewinds . . is the most significant spiritual accomplishment of his lifetime and brings with it the full realization of his immortality."
The vessel is also known for past allegations of involuntary detention and servitude. In 2011, French national Valeska Paris accused the Church of holding her on board against her will for 12 years. The Church of Scientology denied her claims.
Leah Rimini, an American actress and prominent anti-Scientology activist, told Newsweek that the quarantine could be an opportunity for regulatory oversight. “This outbreak could be a blessing in disguise because maybe some people can get off this ship of horrors,” she said. “Circumstances like this give an opportunity for some agencies or authorities to gain access to this ship beyond what would normally be offered.”