International Travel Requirements Change in November 2021

CDC and WHO encourage vaccination before traveling
Miami international airport
(Precision Vaccinations)

Getting vaccinated against infectious diseases is one of the most effective ways to protect your health while traveling abroad. And during the COVID-19 pandemic, new travel vaccine guidance is launching in November 2021. 

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced on October 25, 2021, it is issuing Orders to implement the new travel policy to resume global travel to the U.S safely.

These Orders put in place a stringent and consistent global international travel policy guided by public health.

The CDC’s announcement means that on November 8, 2021, non-U.S. citizens who are not immigrants to the U.S. will be required to be fully vaccinated and provide proof of their vaccination status to fly to the U.S. 

There will be minimal exceptions to this vaccination requirement for certain non-U.S. citizens who are not immigrants, including children under the age of 18.

Fully vaccinated air passengers, regardless of citizenship, will continue to be required to show a negative pre-departure COVID-19 test taken no more than three days before they board their flight to the U.S. 

For passengers who are not fully vaccinated, the rules will tighten to require a test taken no more than one day before departing to the U.S.

Additionally, all air passengers to the United States will also be required to provide basic contact information to airlines before boarding flights to the U.S. 

This will allow airlines to better coordinate with public health agencies to share information when needed to keep the public safe and strengthen their ability to rapidly identify and contact people in the U.S. who may have been exposed to a communicable disease, such as COVID-19.

Further guidance on the minimal exceptions to these vaccination requirements, what constitutes acceptable proof of vaccination, and other operational details are available on CDC’s website.

Separately, the World Health Organization issued its international travel vaccine recommendations on October 26, 2021.

The ninth meeting of the WHO Emergency Committee convened under the International Health Regulations regarding the COVID-19 pandemic took place on October 22, 2021.

The WHO Committee underlined that, while progress has been made through increased uptake of COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics, analysis of the present situation and forecasting models indicate that the pandemic is far from finished.

During the meeting, the WHO confirmed its recommendation on October 26, 2021, 'Do NOT require proof of vaccination against COVID-19 for international travel as the only pathway or condition permitting international travel given limited global access and inequitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.'

'State Parties should consider a risk-based approach to the facilitation of international travel by lifting or modifying measures, such as testing and/or quarantine requirements, when appropriate, following the WHO guidance.'

Certain vaccines have received WHO Emergency Use. This link refers to the Explanation of the status of COVID-19 vaccines within the WHO Emergency Use Listing evaluation process.

Additionally, other authorized COVID-19 vaccines are in use by various countries that the WHO has not Listed.

As the COVID-19 situation worldwide changes, the U.S. CDC is monitoring COVID-19 risk in destinations around the world and making travel recommendations. A listing of CDC Travel Advisories is found on this webpage.  

Moreover, the CDC recommends various ‘travel vaccines’ when visiting specific countries. According to the CDC, most travel vaccines need to be administered at least one month before departure to ensure maximum protection.

In related travel news, the Transportation Security Administration reported on October 26, 2021, domestic air travel in the U.S. continues to operate about 10% less than the pre-COVID-19 pandemic in 2019.

PrecisionVaccinations publishes fact-check, research-based vaccine news.