Children under 18 will not face vaccine requirement for U.S. entry

Oct 26 , 2021. 5 hours ago – 05:26 KYODO NEWS

A United Airlines passenger pushes a luggage cart past closed check-in kiosks at San Francisco International Airport on July 8, 2020. (Getty/Kyodo)

WASHINGTON – Children under age 18 will be exempted from the coronavirus vaccine requirement to be imposed on foreign travelers entering the United States from Nov. 8, the U.S. government said Monday.

For those subject to the mandate, accepted vaccines will include those approved by U.S. drug regulators and those listed by the World Health Organization for emergency use, the government said. Among such vaccines are ones developed by U.S. companies Pfizer Inc. and Moderna Inc. as well as Sinopharm, produced by a Chinese pharmaceutical giant.

The announcements were made as the United States prepares to implement new policies on international air travel amid the coronavirus pandemic, ending the country-based entry restrictions against foreign travelers previously introduced as a measure against virus spread.

The country essentially barred the entry of any non-U.S. citizen who in the last 14 days had been in Brazil, Britain, China, India, Iran, Ireland, South Africa or any of a group of European countries with open-border agreements, such as France, Germany and Italy.

Starting Nov. 8, non-citizen, non-immigrant air travelers will be required to be fully vaccinated in addition to the existing requirement of testing negative for the novel coronavirus within three days prior to departure, with limited exceptions.

Children under age 18 will be exempted due to the ineligibility of some younger children for vaccination as well as the global variability in access to inoculation for older children, the government said.

Nonetheless, children between the ages of 2 and 17 will be required to take a pre-departure virus test.

People with medical contraindications to the vaccines and those traveling on non-tourist visas from countries with low-vaccine availability will also be exempted from the requirement. Low-vaccine availability is defined as a total vaccination rate of less than 10 percent of a country’s population.

Currently, all travelers have been required to produce a negative virus test result within three days prior to departing for the United States.

Under the new system, unvaccinated travelers — whether U.S. citizens or exempted foreign nationals — will need to test negative within one day of departure, the government said.

For Americans who can show they are fully vaccinated, the three-day window for a virus test prior to departure will apply.

Individuals can be considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving a single-dose vaccine or the second dose in a 2-dose series. Combinations of two different vaccines as a 2-dose series will be acceptable as long as each is among those approved.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will also require airlines to collect contact information from international travelers so that public health officials can follow up with potentially infected visitors.