International travellers will be allowed into the US if they are fully vaccinated with any Covid-19 vaccine approved for emergency use by the World Health Organization, which includes the Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines used in the US as well as most used overseas, such as Covaxin, AstraZeneca and China’s Sinovac.
The US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recently recognised the Covaxin vaccine, paving the way for Indians fully vaccinated with the jab to enter the country from November 8.
Not currently allowed is Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine, which is authorised in 70 countries. The WHO is reviewing Sputnik but hasn’t approved it.
The ban on international travel, imposed by former president Donald Trump in early 2020 and upheld by his successor Joe Biden, was widely criticised.
Main requirements, exemptions for children
* All adult foreign nationals traveling to the US must be fully vaccinated before boarding their flight.
* Like before, travelers will still have to show proof of a negative Covid-19 test taken within 72 hours of departure to the US
* All travellers need to be fully vaccinated except children under 18. But they need to take a Covid test at most three days before departure. Kids two years and younger are exempt from testing requirements as well.
Since half the world remains unvaccinated and vaccine distribution has been so skewed to rich countries, the Biden administration is leaving a loophole for people who live in countries where vaccines are scarce.
That list includes about 50 countries where fewer than 10% of people have been vaccinated.
Travellers from such countries will need permission from the US government to come, and it can’t be just for tourism or business.
The US government said it will permit unvaccinated international visitors to enter the country if there is a humanitarian or emergency reason, such as an emergency medical evacuation.
Those exceptions will be applied “extremely narrowly” and require approval from the CDC. There could also be a medical exception, with documentation from a doctor.
All vaccine records will be verified and matched against ID. Airlines will also collect information about passengers for contact tracing efforts.