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Tipsheet

CDC Changes COVID Rules for International Travelers. But Not in the Way You Might Think.

AP Photo/Rick Bowmer

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is holding on to vaccine requirements for international travelers, though it has relaxed its previous restrictions. 

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In an update posted Thursday, CDC said only one dose of a Moderna or Pfizer COVID vaccine is now required. 

“Because some traveler vaccine records might not specify whether recent Moderna or Pfizer doses received 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,” the guidance reads. “This date was chosen because it represents the earliest that travelers could have received a bivalent vaccine.”

The update comes after President Biden signed a bipartisan resolution ending the COVID-19 national emergency earlier this month, which is separate from the public health emergency that's set to expire next month. 

Most countries no longer have vaccine requirements in place for international travelers.

In February, legislation passed in the House on a bipartisan vote calling for an end to the COVID vaccine requirement on international visitors to the U.S.

"The CDC's unscientific mandate is separating too many people from their families and has been doing so for far too long. It needs to end," Republican Rep. Thomas Massie of Kentucky, who introduced the measure, said after the vote. 

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"No free country, other than the United States, requires international visitors to prove they've taken the COVID-19 vaccine," he continued. "This vaccine mandate is keeping families separated, hurting our economy, and preventing some of the best athletes in the world from competing here. We need to join the rest of the free world in returning to normal. Canada, Europe, Japan, South Korea, Australia, and all of South and Central America have no such mandate. I urge the Senate to take up and pass my legislation quickly."

Under the updated requirement, tennis star Novak Djokovic, who has been repeatedly denied entry to compete in the U.S. because he's unvaccinated, still would not be allowed in. 

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