An 89-year-old passenger ship, the 500-passenger MS Thurgau, which had been laid up due to Covid-19’s impact on the cruise ship industry, has been repurposed as a Covid-19 vaccination centre for thousands of residents from cities on Lake Constance, which borders Germany (where it is known as Bodensee), Austria and Switzerland.
The 500-passenger MS Thurgau normally carries tourists and commuters between German and Swiss cities on what is Europe’s third-largest lake. Now, however, it will serve temporarily as a floating inoculation hub for the northern Swiss towns of Romanshorn, Arbon and Kreuzlingen.
Aboard MS Thurgau there are two shot stations capable of vaccinating 24 people per hour. As more vaccines arrive in Switzerland, stations can be expanded to eight.
For the first week, the ship will be in Romanshorn, followed by two weeks in Kreuzlingen. It will then spend a week in Arbon and will then return to Romanshorn to give a booster shot to those inoculated earlier.
Only Moderna shots are being used aboard the MS Thurgau, since the 10-dose vials are slightly easier to prepare in the ship’s cramped quarters, medics said.
The canton of Thurgau initially considered creating vaccine centres aboard buses, but eventually opted to use the idled pleasure cruiser.
A border fence was temporarily erected between the adjacent towns of Constance, Germany, and Kreuzlingen, Switzerland, For weeks it divided families and friends. Konstanz is a German enclave on the sothern shore of the lake, surrounded on all sides by water or Switzerland.