US to accept international travelers with WHO/FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccines

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International travelers inoculated with a COVID-19 vaccine approved by the World Health Organization (WHO) or the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will be permitted entry to the United States by November 2021, the Centers for Disease Control Prevention (CDC) said on October 8, 2021.

This includes those who plan to go to the country for non-essential travel. In September 2020, the Biden administration announced that it will allow vaccinated travelers from the EU and the UK  alongside 33 other countries to enter the United States. However, the announcement did not specify which vaccines will be accepted.

In an emailed statement to AeroTime Hub, CDC said that it had ”informed airlines that the vaccines that are FDA authorized/approved or listed for emergency use by WHO will meet the criteria for travel to the U.S. CDC will release additional guidance and information as the travel requirements are finalized later this month.”

To date, the FDA has authorized the following vaccines for emergency use during the pandemic: Moderna, Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer-BioNTech. WHO has granted approval for the use of Oxford-AstraZeneca/Covishield, Sinopharm and Sinovac vaccines. 

International travelers will need to show proof of full vaccination prior to boarding aircraft bound for the US. A COVID-19 test will also be required within three days of departure and proof of negative results must also be shown. Wearing a mask and enhanced contact tracing will also be a requirement, but there will be no quarantine mandate. 

“CDC will release additional guidance and information as the travel requirements are finalized,” a CDC spokesperson told Reuters media.

Following the announcement, land borders in the United States also appear to be easing restrictions. 

On October 12, 2021, the US Department of Homeland Security declared that non-essential travelers from Canada and Mexico who have been fully vaccinated for COVID-19 and possess appropriate documentation will be permitted to enter the United States via land and ferry ports of entry (POEs) across the U.S. border.  

“In alignment with the new international air travel system that will be implemented in November, we will begin allowing travelers from Mexico and Canada who are fully vaccinated for COVID-19 to enter the United States for non-essential purposes,” said US Homeland Secretary, Alejandro N. Mayorkas in an official online statement

This announcement ends a 19-month-long hold on non-essential land travel to the United States.

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