A single dose of the most widely utilized COVID-19 vaccines is sufficient to meet the requirements to enter the United States, America’s public health agency said in a new update.
Foreign travelers who receive a single shot of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines meet the definition requirements, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“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 CDC says on its website.
The bivalent vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer were first introduced in the United States as boosters in the fall of 2022. They are now available as a one-dose primary series for most Americans, replacing the old vaccines. The CDC does recommend some people get an updated shot as a booster even if they already received one, despite fleeting protection against hospitalization and poor shielding against infection.
The United States has required noncitizen nonimmigrants to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination since 2021, under a proclamation issued by President Joe Biden. Exceptions are given for certain reasons. No religious exceptions are accepted.
The vaccination requirements state that a traveler arriving by air must be fully vaccinated, defined as two weeks after receiving a dose of an accepted single-dose vaccine or the second dose of an accepted two-dose series.
The CDC previously required two doses of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines to meet the requirements. A single dose of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines is now acceptable, alongside a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, available in the United States and elsewhere, or a single dose of the Convidecia vaccine, which is not available in the United States.
Two-dose vaccines include Novavax’s vaccine, available in America; AstraZeneca’s shot, available in Europe and some other countries; and Sinopharm, a Chinese vaccine. People who received a two-dose series of the old Moderna or Pfizer vaccines can still travel to the United States.
To present proof of vaccination, a person must show a digital or paper record such as a vaccination certificate from the European Union.
The United States is one of a small number of nations that still require proof of vaccination to enter the country.
It’s not clear whether the foreigner vaccination requirements will remain in place beyond May 11, when the U.S. public health emergency over COVID-19 is set to expire. The COVID-19 national emergency was already rescinded after Biden signed a bill approved by Congress.