Despite expectations that the Covid vaccine mandate for travelers entering the US would be dropped when the federal government ends the nation’s public health emergency on May 11, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced on Thursday that the policy will be updated rather than dropped.
The updated policy will allow travelers who have received at least one vaccine dose on or after August 16 to enter the country, as the CDC believes that many who have received a one dose since this date may have received the more-protective bivalent shot.
In its update, the CDC said: “Noncitizens who are nonimmigrants and seeking to enter the United States by air are required to show proof of being fully vaccinated against COVID-19 before boarding a flight to the United States from a foreign country.”
“If you are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19, you will NOT be allowed to board a flight to the United States, unless you meet the criteria for an exception under the Proclamation and CDC’s Amended Order,” the CDC added. A booster dose is not needed to meet this requirement.”
“Because some traveler vaccine records might not specify whether recent Moderna or Pfizer doses were bivalent, CDC will consider anybody with record of a single dose of Moderna or Pfizer vaccine issued on or after August 16, 2022, to meet the requirements of the Amended Order to board a plane to the United States.”
“This date was chosen because it represents the earliest that travelers could have received a bivalent booster,” the CDC added.
However, this decision makes the US an outlier internationally, as few countries still require visitors to have received a Covid vaccine for entry, including Angola and Indonesia.
Dr. Doug Badger, a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, told the Daily Mail: “Neither the European Union nor Canada imposes such a requirement.”
“Vaccines reduce the risk that an infected individual will develop severe illness, but they do not prevent transmission,” Dr. Doug Badger said. “The administration should follow the science and rescind this policy.”
The US thus extends its vaccine mandate for travelers for another month, as experts argue that bivalent boosters are necessary because they specifically target the Omicron variant. Unlike the original vaccines which targeted the virus’s initial Wuhan strain, scientists argue that bivalent boosters provide better protection against severe disease and death from currently circulating strains.
However, the move puts the US at odds with most countries, including the UK, France, and the European Union, which have already dropped their vaccination requirements for visitors amid mounting evidence that they do not slow the spread of the virus. China, in line with most of the rest of the world, also does not require travelers to have a Covid vaccine, but they do require a negative Covid test result at least 48 hours before travel.
Additionally, there are now far higher levels of immunity in the population from vaccinations or previous infections than in the early days of the pandemic, with approximately three in four Americans estimated to have some level of immunity against Covid, according to a John Hopkins study released in February last year, and it is likely that current levels are even higher.
In March 2022, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky acknowledged that 95% of Americans have at least “some” protection against Covid.
“We also know that in this country because of vaccines because of boosters and because of protection from prior disease, infection-induced immunity (natural immunity) that about 95% of people in this country have some level of protection,” she said.
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine professor Dr. Marty Makary told The Daily Wire that natural immunity is far superior to vaccinated immunity.
“The data on natural immunity are now overwhelming,” Makary tsaid. “It turns out the hypothesis that our public health leaders had that vaccinated immunity is better and stronger than natural immunity was wrong. They got it backwards. And now we’ve got data from Israel showing that natural immunity is 27 times more effective than vaccinated immunity. And that supports 15 other studies.”
The Biden administration will nonetheless continue to enforce the Covid vaccine mandate despite natural immunity and the fact the vaccines do not stop transmission, putting it at odds with policies in most of the rest of the world.
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OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion.