Iceland Opens To Vaccinated Americans Tomorrow, But CDC Vaccine Cards Won’t Be Accepted

Update Great News: Iceland has already changed its requirements, and vaccination records no longer must show the person’s nationality and passport number. In addition U.S. lab results will be accepted for prior positive PCR test or antibody test results.

Starting Thursday, March 18th Iceland welcomes vaccinated visitors. Even Americans are eligible. However as I anticipated laying out problems with vaccine passports, U.S. CDC vaccination cards don’t qualify.

They’ll accept the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. Chinese vaccines, including those from Sinovac and Sinopharm, as well as Russia’s Sputnik vaccine are not accepted.

  • They accept one dose of Johnson & Johnson, but two-dose regimen vaccines require both doses for validity
  • There’s no waiting period after a second dose though
  • The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine must show doses “at least with 19–42 days apart” – it’s unclear whether that means ’19 or more’ or what ‘at least’ means with respect to 42 days (would taking the second shot 43 days after the first one be disqualifying). For Moderna it’s “at least 28 days apart” without reference to a maximum time between doses, while rules for AstraZeneca specify “at least with 4–12 weeks apart.” This is potentially complicating for a country pursuing a ‘first doses first’ strategy.

Iceland requires a vaccination record that includes first and last name; date of birth; nationality; passport number; what vaccine was administered and against which disease; date of vaccination and manufacturer and lot number. U.S. CDC cards do not include nationality or passport number.

One possibly workaround is that proof of prior infection is accepted in lieu of vaccination. They will accept a positive PCR test more than 14 days old or a positive antibody test. Someone who has been vaccinated (even with one dose of a two-dose vaccine) may be able to get a positive antibody test, though Iceland may require that such a test come from a European lab.

There’s clearly still a lot to work out in terms of the role that vaccination plays in re-opening international borders, and what proof will be accepted, however that Iceland is doing this – and doing it tomorrow – gives me hope that Greece’s plan to open to Americans this summer will hold, and that other countries will join as well.

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, 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. It would seem that it should be possible to have one’s PCP office produce a vaccination record form that includes all the necessary information as Iceland doesn’t dictate the source of the document. It will be interesting to see how this unfolds.

  2. Do you think Clear’s Health Pass will gain any traction? My renewal is up next month.

  3. How stupid… why would anyone go there? I am guessing it is going to be a nightmare of shutdowns with little to do or eat.

  4. The Patient Number field is blank on my completed CDC vaccination card l received from CVS. This post has prompted me to write ‘USA Passport # xxxxxxxxxxxxx’ in that field before I fly to South America soon. Many completed CDC vaccination cards may have this field blank.

  5. @Ryan – actually I did read the primary source. It originally required nationality and passport number. It no longer does. And U.S. lab tests are now accepted as well.

  6. It is now obvious that the US Government will have to address this issue. Your whole post of
    “5 Reasons The U.S. Won’t Have Vaccine Passports” becomes moot. If there isn’t a document then Americans won’t be able to travel. How long do you think that will last? Hm…

  7. Don’t you also need to remove the sentence at the top that says U.S. CDC vaccine cards don’t qualify? I’m reading this as having two conflicting pieces of information

  8. Why would your nationality and passport number have to be on the card when you just show them your passport and they match the name? Sounds pretty simple. May the Icelanders figured that out and took the requirement off.

  9. I got 2 doses of Pfizer 17 days apart. I work at a hospital on a covid unit and the facility was offering second doses as soon as day 16. On what grounds could Iceland possible argue my regimen wouldn’t be effective? Now there is data essentially showing a Pfizer one dose is approach is arguably more effective than J&J period. That piece of the policy has been pulled out of thin air. If anyone has evidence to the contrary I would love to see it.

  10. Wow this is great news, and it looks like Greece may follow soon. I may have to rebook my summer vacation…

    Finally some common sense.

  11. It’s amazing with an international standard for yellow fever shot proof with the yellow card in Africa that COVID has to be so damn different

  12. @david, the 19-42 day requirement for the Pfizer vaccine is because those are the parameters from the clinical trial and therefore the parameters assumed with the US emergency use authorization and equivalent in other countries.

    Your hospital shouldn’t have administered the 2nd doses that quickly. They might have reduced the effectiveness of the vaccine by doing that. They might not have, but we don’t know, and governments like Iceland are not being unreasonable in not wanting to take the chance.

  13. @Jason COVID is so different because we’re in the middle of a pandemic. Yellow fever reaches local and regional epidemic levels sometimes, but it’s mostly under control and is not a risk of pandemic. Different viruses lead to different public health needs. Also, the yellow fever system is way overdue for being updated, and covid could very well be the impetus for that.

  14. So in reality if the CDC card is not accepted it wont open since currently almost everyone (millions) in the US who have received a vaccine have the CDC card. Very few PCPs are giving the vaccine currently and almost all that do, including pharmacies, use the CDC card, And there is no US national standard for proof of vaccination.

  15. @autoclycus you are not correct, I’m afraid. There is a 4 day grace period for the timing of the second shot on the early side clearly stated on the CDC website. In our case, Given how many at risk people needed to be vaccinated quickly getting everyone a second dose at exactly 21 days simply wasn’t feasible. Please see the link below.

    Also, our vaccine program was designed by the chairman of our infectious disease department in conjunction with the cdc, it’s not like they were just handing out shots.


  16. @david thanks for the correction. I hadn’t ever seen that particular grace period. I had read the EUA itself and all of the materials from it and the trials.

    I do still understand why Iceland would have some sort of criteria for the spacing of the 2 doses. It sounds like your case should probably be allowed, but certainly 7 days apart shouldn’t be.

    The UK situation is going to be really interesting because they’re focused entirely on dose 1 and I assume a lot of people will end up getting dose 2 well after the AZ recommendation.

  17. This is not going to last long for Iceland. As soon as tourists come, some with active Covid 19 will invariably slip in and get some locals sick. They will likely back off. It is a game of numbers and chance.

  18. @Autolycus, yes agree there needs to be some sort of discussion/consensus regarding timing or someone needs to do a study looking at antibody titers with various dosing schemes. In the UK case, it is going to be a headache for governments and travelers alike. Ayyy…

  19. Any ideas on this policy or other vaccine passport schemes and kids? Do they get to travel under their parents’ immunity or, as kids (except for those in trials?) can’t yet be vaccinated, will they be excluded?

  20. For those of you who may not know, the CDC encouraged people who became vaccinated to register with VSafe a mobile phone internet based utility that tracks adverse reactions following vaccination As soon as you register following your first vaccine , you are issued a special unique registration number specific to your. vaccine. Your name and mobile phone number are registered with the CDC

    Following registration, the CDC sends vaccinated individuals daily text messages containing reporting links inquiring about any adverse reactions which you are encouraged to report The daily text messages are sent out for a period of 7 days Text messages are then sent out once a week for three weeks Following your second vaccine the whole process begins anew until three weeks have elapsed following the second vaccine

    The beauty of this system is that you are issued a unique registration number which can go on your CDC immunization card in the area that reads medical record number You can print the entire profile including the daily responses concerning your report of any advance reactions The database shows the date of the first vaccination as well as the date of the second

    The question then becomes whether you can print the information contained in this database as proof of vaccination as required by an international travel health passport

    Some of the clinics administering the COVID vaccines here in San Diego CA actively encouraged people to register with VSafe However, there were many clinics that said nothing to people receiving the vaccine and therefore these individuals had no clue that such a system even existed. When I mentioned VSafe to many of my patients they had no clue what I was talking about I encouraged my patients and friends to register with VSafe in order to help the CDC track adverse reactions following vaccination as well as to aid in establishing some proof that the person vaccinated was actually vaccinated

    Some people received the vaccine at their PCPs office So yes the PCP could technically issue an official letter attesting to the fact that a particular person was indeed vaccinated

    It is also important to note that although some clinics did in fact note the vaccination in the patient’s medical chart and there is an official record of said vaccination, there are many clinics that never logged the vaccination in any chart per se and the only proof of vaccination is that CDC COVID19 vaccination card which you all have been discussing on this discussion thread

    Technically that CDC card should suffice as proof of vaccination since the card does contain a vaccine lot number which can easily be verified by governmental authorities Yes it is not tamper proof but if backed up with a VSafe vaccination database record it should offer good proof of vaccination

    There is no question that this is an evolving field and what constitutes a valid COVID19 immunization record passport remains to be determined

    Alternatively foreign governments can utilize serum antibody tests as one way of verifying that the individual does possess antibodies

    As an aside, the last I checked, the app VeriFLY has NO present capability of holding any vaccine information When I contacted their customer support center, they informed me that they presently can only accept data pertaining to registrant COVID19 PCR or RAPID test information. They are not presently accepting any information pertaining to your COVID vaccination history I was told that they are working on how to include vaccination data but this is not presently available This tells me that perhaps they too do not presently know what would constitute proof of COVID19 vaccination

    Hope all the above helps in shedding some light on this important issue

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