The U.S. is planning to require vaccination as a condition of entry for nearly all visitors to the country. This would replace country-by-country bans on travelers, and would not apply to returning U.S. citizens and permanent residents.
The Biden administration is developing a plan to require nearly all foreign visitors to the United States to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as part of eventually lifting travel restrictions that bar much of the world from entering the United States, a White House official told Reuters on Wednesday.
The White House wants to re-open travel, which would boost business for the airlines and tourism industry, but is not ready to immediately lift restrictions because of the rising COVID-19 case load and highly transmissible COVID-19 Delta variant, the official said.
There are many issues to be sorted out in a policy like this, including:
- What vaccines count? Would AstraZeneca, for instance, be accepted when it isn’t approve for use in the U.S.? Would China’s less effective Sinovac and Sinopharm vaccines be accepted, though they’re in use in much of the world?
- What level of vaccination is required? A first Pfizer dose may be more effective than one dose vaccines, but requires two doses to be considered “fully vaccinated.”
- How long is vaccination good for? We know that antibodies wane, and there’s some indication immunity may as well.
- What proof is accepted? US CDC cards have no universal mechanism for verification, and U.S. airlines may not have the technology to interface with all world data systems that do exist.
However any system that increases the likelihood that visitors have been vaccinated is good from a public health standpoint, and is superior than the current approach that banes a vaccinated European but allows entry by unvaccinated Indonesians and Russians.