A vaccine card may soon be as necessary as a passport for international travel into the United States.
Right now, broad restrictions due to the ongoing pandemic bar most foreign travel from coming to the U.S. But the White House is currently weighing revisions to those rules, in an effort to safely allow more international travel. The U.S.’s current regulations bar non-Americans who have recently traveled to or from China, India, the United Kingdom, most of Europe, and several dozen other countries.
The biggest two facets of the proposed revisions are required vaccinations and mandatory contact tracing of international visitors.
“We will be putting in place contact tracing to enable [the] CDC to follow up with inbound international travelers and those around them if someone has potentially been exposed to COVID-19,” said Jeffrey Zients, coronavirus response coordinator for the White House, before an advisory panel to Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo. “And we are exploring vaccination requirements for foreign nationals traveling to the United States.”
Zients also said that the Biden administration is taking “strong action on vaccination requirements.”
The proposed vaccine requirement has the support of Dr. Anthony Fauci, the United States’ leading expert on infectious disease.
“I would support that if you want to get on a plane and travel with other people that you should be vaccinated,” said Fauci in an interview.
On the other side, much of the air travel industry is against such a requirement.
“U.S. Travel has long maintained that there should be no mandatory vaccination requirement… Such a policy would have an unfair, negative impact on families with young children who are not yet eligible to get the vaccine,” said Tori Emerson Barnes, executive vice president of public affairs and policy for the U.S. Travel Association. U.S. Travel’s stance is that the federal mask mandate for all air travelers will be sufficient. That mandate is in effect until January 2022.