Australia Says They’ll Require Covid-19 Vaccination For Entry When Borders Re-Open

The CEO of Qantas said Australia would re-open to visitors in July. The government said not so fast, without actually denying the claim. Now we know a little more about Australia’s re-opening plan, though not the timing.

  • Everyone entering Australia will either need to have been vaccinated or quarantine for 14 days on arrival as currently required for the limited set of people permitted into the country.

  • Digital verification of vaccination will be required. For Australians the country’s vaccine register will “be used to issue digital vaccination certificates through smartphone apps, starting with the the government’s own MyGov and Express Plus Medicare apps.”

The ‘vaccination or quarantine’ choice was flagged over the weekend by Stuart Robert, Minister for Government Services, who added that the government was working to make sure its own vaccination certificates would be “widely accepted” by other countries.

“It’s highly likely that a vaccination certificate or quarantine will still be required for international visitors to Australia,” Roberts said during a press conference on Queensland’s Gold Coast.

the Seychelles, Thailandis talking this up as well.

Qantas has previously said they’d require vaccination for their international flights which makes sense now that we know the country of Australia will require vaccination for entry without a mandatory 14-day quarantine.

It’s unclear how U.S. vaccination records will be validated. Here paper cards are handed out and either handwritten or computer stickers placed on the cards. The CDC receives vaccination records but those have been messy.

And with vaccine trials for children aged 2-11 still months away, let alone a rollout for children, it’s unclear whether Australia or other countries will send all families with children into mandatory quarantine or will exempt young children from the requirement as long as their families have taken their shots.

Australia hasn’t started vaccinating its population yet. By late February they should be administering 80,000 Pfizer doses per week, and expects to vaccinated 4 million (out of 25 million population) by April.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Hmm, this will be tricky. Those paper cards handed out in the US can be easily counterfeited. And as I mentioned in an earlier post, I am currently in a vaccine trial and although I am receiving actual doses of the vaccine, the pharmaceutical company will not release my records showing that I’ve been given the vaccine until it is absolutely mandated. And, based on that, what type of records will Australia – or other countries – be requiring? Will there be uniformity, as with the Yellow Fever card?

    And with HIPPA laws in the US, how easy will it be to obtain this medical data?

    Other forms of proof that would be effective might be considered:
    –rapid test upon departure AND arrival airports
    –recent (30 day) antibody test combined with negative antigen test

  2. How will this policy affect those sail into Australian ports and who disembark a cruise ship? and what about those who don’t have a smart phone for whatever reason?
    Surprised Australia isn’t following Canada down the primrose path…no cruise ships with more than 100 passengers until 02/28/2022..

  3. So far the UK government is ruling out vaccine passports saying that a traveller can get the info from their doctor (all connected via the NHS). But, a doctor’s note? Anybody can (and will) dummy them up. And Saga Cruise Line, a UK line, has already said that future cruise passengers will be required to be vaccinated.

    This issue is going to pop up everywhere in short order. The governments or WHO better coordinate something if they want the world to open up.

    I got my first Pfizer jab and just have a piece of paper.

  4. Going to be interesting what they accept. My card is a simple one with handwritten details of my name, birth date, and the vaccine administered with date (along with some sort of serial number).

    I assume that serial number is somehow trackable to a CDC or Moderna database and able to be verified. Still, I see all sorts of ways people can forge or get fake ones in how flimsy they are.

  5. I had to cancel my trip to Australia for November 2020. With COVID-19 I will not even try to go to Australia this year. I am hoping for 2022.

  6. Most US states have a voluntary Immunization Information System (IIS). I’m sure the solution for Americans will be based on those somehow. It’s very easy to link those to your doctors’ electronic medical records and your phone’s health app(s). Could be from existing apps or it could require something from the CDC, but the IIS records make the most sense moving forward, since those can be updated automatically for all immunizations you receive moving forward.

  7. I hope as life opens, those of us fully vaccinated, might be able to utilise our personal e-Health apps from our medical providers. Currently healthcare providers such as Kaiser Permanente Medical Group, Stanford Health , and Sutter Health offer apps for smartphones that will show your immunization records including the specific vaccine. My app shows Moderna with both dates of vaccination. Also various commercial laboratories, LabCorp, Quest Diagnostics, and KPMG have apps that have your lab results and will show if you’ve been tested and the results ex. I’ve had 2 RNA PCR-QT CoVID-19 tests showing no ab’s despite working in a hospital.
    My preference is not to add any govm’t app to my personal mobile unless absolutely necessary, or from the Spanish government lol.

  8. It’s actually more complex than it sounds because different vaccines offer different protections.

    Failure to order enough Pfizer or any Moderna has left Australia dependent upon locally produced Astra Zeneca for half its population.

    But Astra Zeneca seems to reduce disease severity rather than prevent transmission, and it can’t create herd immunity.

    It will be hard enough to allow Australians who have had Astra Zeneca to leave the country and then risk importing the virus from overseas. And it would be impossible to allow foreign visitors to enter if their only vaccination has been Astra Zeneca.

    Clearly there will have to be different freedoms for people who have had different vaccines.

    Public opinion in Australia is overwhelmingly against opening up to international travel before the Pandemic ends. Over 90% of the Australian public identify the US, UK and EU as having failed dismally due to open borders. None of us want the economic carnage that those three places inflicted upon themselves by prematurely opening up.

  9. Incidentally, the Australian government made clear that for overseas vaccination to be recognised, the overseas government (not private pharmacy or doctor) which administered the vaccine to its own citizen would have to conclude an agreement with the Australian government to allow the vaccination batch number and administration date to be uploaded on to the Australian government portal.

    So, for example, UK citizens getting a Pfizer jab via the National Health Service will have a pathway to eligibility to enter Australia once the UK arranges how to upload onto the Australian government portal.

    But American citizens who received a jab at CVS or Walgreens in Kansas City will be locked out by the lack of any ability to satisfy those requirements. Delegation to private providers at a state level will make it impossible to meet the requirements for entry into Australia.

  10. Interesting bits from @DavidF, but I simply cannot imagine a scenario where an American who got the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine at their own doctor’s office in April would not be allowed to enter Australia in August or September. The governments will work out these issues because it is in everybody’s interest to do so.

  11. @Kimmie A (and others) – it is HIPAA ( for Health Information Portability and Accountability Act) not HIPPA!!?

    This may seem like a minor issue but after 30 years in healthcare and as a member of the original American Hospital Association HIPAA advisory board it bothers me when people don’t get it right. Oh yeah Kinmie – under HIPAA you can always request your health record and are free to share it as you feel appropriate so HIPAA has zero bearing on issues like this.

  12. @Autolycus
    We have seen French Polynesia elsewhere in the Pacific devastated by a Covid outbreak imported by American tourists.

    Their government thought that pre-departure testing and on-arrival retesting would keep Covid out, and it failed.

    The Australian economy is thriving currently in a Covid-free society where we can’t spend our money overseas.

    The economic risks of allowing foreign visitors in are simply not worth taking while our economy has gone from an initial contracting to the boom we are now in.

    There is zero chance that vaccinated foreign visitors will be allowed in before our vaccination program is complete. But worse, because 50% of us will only have the Astra Zeneca vaccination in 2021, the chances of EITHER outbound OR inbound international travel happening this year are zero.

    I’ve booked a trip to my unit on Maui in December. The chances that I will get an Exit Permit to depart Australia are fading by the day – it’s just not going to happen.

  13. @davidf Thanks for the back and forth. I’m still confident that things will begin to change drastically once the vaccines are more widely available, but I appreciate the delicate balance in more countries which have been able to isolate themselves as effectively as Australia and NZ.

    What is the current timeline for Australia’s vaccination program?

    French Polynesia was definitely foolish to think pre-arrival testing was even remotely sufficient. Even with 100% accurate tests, it’s a flawed strategy because a single test is only a single snapshot in time and could too easily occur during incubation. My family cancelled our own trip to FP even though we could have easily gotten the tests and been fine. But we didn’t want to possibly contribute to spread.

    That said, required vaccination and required pre-arrival testing are vastly different things. Vaccination will be proven to drastically reduce, if not eliminate a person’s ability to become infected or spread virus.

    Your comments on the AZ vaccine are especially dour, and in the context of the South African variant, understandable at this point. We will get more data on the vaccine over the coming weeks and months, but there is some good evidence that it should reduce spread rather than just reduce severity.

    https://www.nytimes.com/live/2021/02/03/world/covid-19-coronavirus/astrazeneca-coronavirus-vaccine

  14. If there is one thing this ever evolving pandemic should have proved its no one knows what will happen tomorrow. How many times have plans for admitting foreigners changed? Herd immunity may be impossible with new variants. Covid might become endemic like the flu. I hope not.

  15. Extremely unlikely that there will be any reopening this year; probably well into 2022 before much movement. That’s because there is increasing evidence that the South African variant is becoming the dominant strain worldwide…and the fact that the Astra-Zeneca vaccine ( ie the one being produced in Australia) does not stop transmission ( although it lessens the severity and duration of the illness); while it will be ‘tweaked’ to be more effective against the variants/mutations, this work will not be completed before northern autumn/ winter. Consequently, 2022 is more likely for reopening.
    Having a vaccination certificate is useless unless it’s well-established that it means you can’t transmit the virus to others….and those trials are in their infancy.

  16. Amazing that a number of people actually believe that being vaccinated will prevent them from contracting the virus…lessen the severity & duration- yes.

    Exit Permit to leave Australia? Whoa!! don’t give Biden any ideas!!!

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