Report: US Will Require Visitors To Be Vaccinated, End Travel Bans

Report: US Will Require Visitors To Be Vaccinated, End Travel Bans

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It looks like the United States may soon replace its current travel bans with a different kind of requirement for entry.

US could end travel bans, add vaccination requirement

While no official announcement has been made, Reuters quotes a White House official as stating that the Biden administration is developing a plan to require nearly all foreign visitors to the United States to be vaccinated against COVID-19. This wouldn’t apply to United States residents and citizens, but rather only visitors.

As it’s stated, the White House is ready to reopen travel, but is not ready to immediately lift restrictions because of rising case numbers and the delta variant.

Agencies are working “to have a new system ready for when we can reopen travel,” which includes “a phased approach that over time will mean, with limited exceptions, that foreign nationals traveling to the United States (from all countries) need to be fully vaccinated.”

This would be part of a plan of eventually lifting the travel restrictions that are currently in place against much of the world, including BrazilChinaIndiathe Schengen ZoneSouth Africa, and the United Kingdom, among other countries.

Obviously there are more questions than answers as of now:

  • Which vaccines would be eligible for entry into the United States?
  • Would pre-travel testing still be required when returning to the United States?
  • Would unvaccinated children traveling with vaccinated adults be allowed to enter the United States, and if so, would they need to be tested?
  • It’s stated that “over time” we could see vaccination required, so could we first see borders open on a more widespread basis, and then see this requirement later?
Foreign visitors to the United States may have to be vaccinated

My take on this potential vaccination requirement

The United States’ current entry restrictions make no sense, and most definitely don’t “follow the science.” They don’t restrict entry based on the actual epidemiological situation in a country, but rather are based on identifying places that had a bad outbreak at one point, but then the bans are never revisited.

In that sense, this new policy would be a considerable improvement, as it’s based on science. Being vaccinated significantly reduces your risk of hospitalization and death, and it’s also believed to reduce your risk of getting coronavirus. Wanting people to be vaccinated makes a lot more sense than a blanket ban based on where someone is coming from.

What I find interesting is that this seems to be the first indication of the Biden administration making concrete policies based on vaccination status. New York announced it will require people to be vaccinated to dine indoors, go to gyms, etc., but on a federal level up until now we haven’t even seen the suggestion that we could see restrictions based on vaccination status (obviously there are potentially some legal challenges there). It seems that the first area where we may see vaccination become a requirement on a federal level is with entry into the country.

My primary concern with this potential new system is how long it will take to implement. Nothing happens quickly, and this seems like it would be no exception. My one hope is that it’s stated that requiring visitors to be vaccinated is a long-term goal, so perhaps we could see some restrictions lifted in the interim.

We could finally see the current travel bans lifted

Bottom line

The Biden administration is allegedly considering replacing the current travel bans with the requirement for foreign visitors to be vaccinated, at least in the long-run. This seems to me like an improvement, in terms of minimizing the risk associated with travel.

What do you make of the United States potentially requiring visitors to be vaccinated?

Conversations (40)
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  1. Olivia

    Make everybody with no exception to be vaccinated. All kids that are not eligible to be vaccinated and travel with their parents must take the test within 3 days prior to their arrival in the U.S. No exception.

  2. Derek

    While this measure might help increase the vaccination rate slightly, it is not going to help with the spread of the virus. It has been documented in Israel and UK that vaccinated people can spread the delta variant just as easily as unvaccinated people. US is starting to admit that too. Look at EU, the countries with higher vaccination rates in western Europe have more Covid cases than the countries with lower vaccination rates in...

    While this measure might help increase the vaccination rate slightly, it is not going to help with the spread of the virus. It has been documented in Israel and UK that vaccinated people can spread the delta variant just as easily as unvaccinated people. US is starting to admit that too. Look at EU, the countries with higher vaccination rates in western Europe have more Covid cases than the countries with lower vaccination rates in central and eastern Europe. Perhaps it has to do with the fact that vaccinated people stopped wearing masks and social distancing. Nothing short of the draconian measures taken by Australia and NZ is going to stop the spread of the virus. And even those measures would be too late for US. Requiring the vaccine at the border is not gonna help with anything except boost the ego of the vaccinated.

    1. Dick Bupkiss

      "It has been documented in Israel and UK that vaccinated people can spread the delta variant just as easily as unvaccinated people."

      Bullshit. Russian/Trumpist nonsense disinformation.

      FACT: While it is true that no vaccine is 100% bullet-proof, if fully vaccinated with a good MRNA vaccine (Pfizer, Moderna), yes, it is possible to carry the virus and spread it. Not likely, but possible -- and nothing like "as easily as unvaccinated".

      Objective, proven facts and reality...

      "It has been documented in Israel and UK that vaccinated people can spread the delta variant just as easily as unvaccinated people."

      Bullshit. Russian/Trumpist nonsense disinformation.

      FACT: While it is true that no vaccine is 100% bullet-proof, if fully vaccinated with a good MRNA vaccine (Pfizer, Moderna), yes, it is possible to carry the virus and spread it. Not likely, but possible -- and nothing like "as easily as unvaccinated".

      Objective, proven facts and reality matters, you idiot. You're a liar, a moron, and a fascist.

    2. Derek

      Get your facts straight you moron! The news today are a bit different than a week ago. I'm taking this virus very seriously and I did not vote for Trump. Unlike you I believe in the facts and not on what I wish it was true. But with idiots like you who live in Utopia Land this is never gonna end.

    3. Derek

      Not likely???
      74% of the people infected at Cape Cod were vaccinated.
      Stop using words that you don't really understand like "not likely" and "possible".Leave them to the ones that have a brain.

    4. Vv

      If 95% of the people at the Provincetown festivities were vaccinated, then any spread at those events would disproportionately be among vaccinated people (given delta can be spread by some vaccinated people). What we don’t know is how many vaccinated were exposed, and then got infected, and how many unvaccinated were exposed and infected. It’s looking like it’s still 25x less likely to get infected if you’re vaccinated even with delta. (Based on discussion among...

      If 95% of the people at the Provincetown festivities were vaccinated, then any spread at those events would disproportionately be among vaccinated people (given delta can be spread by some vaccinated people). What we don’t know is how many vaccinated were exposed, and then got infected, and how many unvaccinated were exposed and infected. It’s looking like it’s still 25x less likely to get infected if you’re vaccinated even with delta. (Based on discussion among virologists from the TWiV podcast)

    5. Florian

      There is nothing to add to what Vv said, seems like Derek doesn't miss opportunity to demonstrate he fell asleep in statistics lessons.

  3. ChrisC

    Will be happy to prove my vaccination status - the NHS app generates a QR code and displays details or I have a printed official letter to show.

    Happy to test on departure to USA and I'll bring lateral flow tests with me as well (for own peace of mind).

    Happy to follow local mandates re mask wearing and will even wear a mask on transit and crowded places even if it isn't required.

    Issue...

    Will be happy to prove my vaccination status - the NHS app generates a QR code and displays details or I have a printed official letter to show.

    Happy to test on departure to USA and I'll bring lateral flow tests with me as well (for own peace of mind).

    Happy to follow local mandates re mask wearing and will even wear a mask on transit and crowded places even if it isn't required.

    Issue I will have is will the US recognise the AZ vaccine that has been approved in the UK, EU and many other countries.

    1. Dick Bupkiss

      Your response is perfectly reasonable. My guess is that this whole plan will take some time to implement. In that time, the AZ vaccine needs to get approved here, for the reasons you mention. That vaccine seems perfectly acceptable, and is in widespread use around the world. We will need to get that on the approved list. I'd be less sure about the Russian and Chinese vaccines gaining approval.

    2. YULtide

      Apparently large parts of the EU won't accept my AZ vaccine because my first dose was manufactured in India.

      Travel still seems a bit of a crap shoot.

  4. Flyforestfly

    ...or a passenger can just fly into Tijuana and come into the country illegally...then the government doesn't care if you're vaccinated

  5. EC2

    My guess is that Canadians will be exempted as they are already allowed in (albeit just by air) with just normal entry negative test required.

    1. Florian

      Hmm you can travel to the US by air from most countries right now, but I can't imagine they would all be exempt because of that in the future...?

  6. Dick Bupkiss

    Make it apply to US residents/citizens, too. Then it's rational, sane, and a step towards a solution.

    Bottom line: No vax? Fine, enjoy your "freedom" and stay in your cabin up in the hills. Want to participate in a modern society? Great. Get the jabs, period.

    Mandates, please. With teeth. Don't over-complicate things. Stop apologizing for being rational and stop coddling the lunatics.

  7. Another Lump

    Unless you cross illegally, then no requirements, no wait, no test, no vaccination, no documentation required. You might even get a free vaccine out of it. Why not, come on over, laws shmaws.

    1. Vv

      If they get a vaccine, they would still be doing more to help us get out of this pandemic than the vast majority of states like Arkansas, Florida, Texas, and Missouri.

  8. PDS

    I think you meant a ‘White House official’

  9. Florian

    Enough countries have shown it's not that hard to implement once the decision has been taken. The US could even plug into the EU system (gasp).

    On the official's remarks quoted by Reuters - is it just me or do I read the same fluffy BS as usual, just this time they added vaccination as a to-be requirement - which is fine - when borders will open at a distant and undefined point in the...

    Enough countries have shown it's not that hard to implement once the decision has been taken. The US could even plug into the EU system (gasp).

    On the official's remarks quoted by Reuters - is it just me or do I read the same fluffy BS as usual, just this time they added vaccination as a to-be requirement - which is fine - when borders will open at a distant and undefined point in the future? How many times have we read of "working groups" trying to figure something out? There are still no metrics, and if you take rising case numbers well that will happen each year from now on latest in fall, so by that account you may as well stay shut forever.

  10. Santastico

    Nothing follows the science in this country. Visitors coming to this country legally need proof of vaccine but anyone crossing the Southern border illegally is welcome with no vaccine at all. Interesting!!!

    1. Vv

      Read what you wrote again and try thinking for a few seconds.

  11. Fatty Bao

    What is absent from your take: Unvaccinated American citizens and residents can go anywhere and bring the virus back with them to infect dozens more but not non-Americans. Even the new policy doesn’t “follow the science.” Even pre-testing applies to everyone, that’s not fool proof. No need to go easy on sleepy Joe. I’m all for this policy if it applies to everyone.

    1. Evan

      Many countries have vaccine requirements to enter, so the ability of unvaccinated US citizens to "travel anywhere" is not really true.

    2. Fatty Bao

      Why should we rely on other countries non uniform vaccine requirements? We should lead by example. This virus doesn’t care what passport you hold. Why should the US government? Nothing about this is scientific

    3. Vv

      Biden appears to be working around the clock, not sure why you felt compelled to throw in a childish ad hominem. Doesn’t help your argument.

  12. pstm91

    When will vaccinated travelers (US Citizens included) no longer need a COVID test to travel to the US if they are vaccinated? That would be "following the science" and I don't know how they haven't updated that at this point...

    1. Luke

      Wouldnt count on it being anytime soon, looking at how other places like Australia is handling this, where vaccinated Australians will be subject to mandatory 10 day quarantines and multiple tests to be allowed back in while unvaccinated cant do squat.

    2. EC2

      The US government is concerned with cases. The science and the actual data supports continued testing as vaccinated are contracting and spreading coronavirus and hence increasing cases. Gibraltar is 99% fully vaccinated and has had huge spikes in cases. Israel has also been using Pfizer and has increased cases including vaccinated being hospitalized.

  13. Andy

    Eric P - That seems a bit pedantic - technically visa holders are non-residents. So implicitly residents means green card holders.

    1. Eskimo

      @Andy
      Technically, there are 2 types of visa, Immigrant Visa and Nonimmigrant Visa. Eric_P is correct.
      There is no such thing as 'non-residents' visa holders. Visa holders can be a resident too, such as spouse of a U.S. Citizen who doesn't have a Green Card yet.

      The term 'non-residents' is more commonly used in conjunction with 'aliens' primarily for tax purposes.
      Thus people like Eric_P is a resident in the eyes...

      @Andy
      Technically, there are 2 types of visa, Immigrant Visa and Nonimmigrant Visa. Eric_P is correct.
      There is no such thing as 'non-residents' visa holders. Visa holders can be a resident too, such as spouse of a U.S. Citizen who doesn't have a Green Card yet.

      The term 'non-residents' is more commonly used in conjunction with 'aliens' primarily for tax purposes.
      Thus people like Eric_P is a resident in the eyes of IRS, but a non-immigrant in the eyes of DHS.
      Neither terms imply the other.

    2. Andy

      @eskimo thanks for the clarification. I was a non-resident for years but hadn’t considered the spousal situation. It seems, as usual, that nothing is simple.

  14. KDW

    Edit your fist line, sure you meant a While House official and not a White official. Ha!

    1. YULtide

      Or possibly the first line rather than the fist line.
      And probably a White House official rather than a While House official.

      Stones and glass houses.... Ha!

  15. Eric_P

    "This wouldn’t apply to United States residents and citizens, but rather only visitors."

    I know it's paraphrased but this should be corrected to United States PERMANENT residents (i.e. Green Card holders), citizens...

    I'm a US resident on a work visa, but not a PERMANENT resident. Hence I cannot return from one of those banned countries into the US directly, unless I've spent the preceding 14 days in a non-banned country. :(

  16. Omar

    Finally a common sense regulation.

    1. Eskimo

      Yes Finally.
      It took USA 18 months to realize that. It's probably too late to do anything now. I feel this just deters people who are here for the free vaccines when it's impossible to get vaccinated in their home country.

  17. Giovanna

    Requiring proof of vaccination for tourists from the Schengen area won't be a problem. Here we've got the Green pass that shows the info of vaccination (name, birthdate, country of residence and date and type of vaccine used).

    1. Creditcrunch

      Same as England, the NHS App displays clearly covid vaccine details along with a QR code and more recently results from self administered LF tests.

    2. Brandon

      I agree at this point just put it in action already. Some countries in Europe started allowing Americans in May. Here we are in August and we are still just talking about allowing Europeans with no firm date in place. Biden is incredibly slowwwww

  18. Joe

    My concern is which vaccine is recognized by the US. For example, more people around the world receive the Astrazeneca vaccine than any other brand. But the US doesn't recognize the vaccine at this moment. This would pose a problem for many European and Asian visitors. Then you have the dilemma of whether or not to accept those with Chinese vaccines....

    1. Sean M.

      The most likely scenario initially will be to accept the vaccines on the WHO EUL, as the current CDC guidances apply to both FDA and WHO approved vaccines.

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Flyforestfly

...or a passenger can just fly into Tijuana and come into the country illegally...then the government doesn't care if you're vaccinated

Dick Bupkiss

Make it apply to US residents/citizens, too. Then it's rational, sane, and a step towards a solution. Bottom line: No vax? Fine, enjoy your "freedom" and stay in your cabin up in the hills. Want to participate in a modern society? Great. Get the jabs, period. Mandates, please. With teeth. Don't over-complicate things. Stop apologizing for being rational and stop coddling the lunatics.

Another Lump

Unless you cross illegally, then no requirements, no wait, no test, no vaccination, no documentation required. You might even get a free vaccine out of it. Why not, come on over, laws shmaws.

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