Sunday,  November 28, 2021  1:11 am

U.S. to accept WHO-approved vaccines for int'l travel. That includes Oxford-AstraZeneca.

U.S. to accept WHO-approved vaccines for int'l travel. That includes Oxford-AstraZeneca.
(World Health Organization)
Michael Pihach

Michael Pihach is an award-winning journalist with a keen interest in digital storytelling. In addition to PAX, Michael has also written for CBC Life, Ryerson University Magazine, IN Magazine, and Michael joins PAX after years of working at popular Canadian television shows, such as Steven and Chris, The Goods and The Marilyn Denis Show.

The United States will accept international travellers who received COVID-19 vaccines authorized by U.S. regulators or the World Health Organization (WHO), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on Friday (Oct. 8).

A CDC spokeswoman told Reuters that six vaccines that are FDA authorized/approved or listed for emergency use by WHO will meet the criteria for travel to the U.S.

This will come as good news to those Canadians who received an Oxford-AstraZeneca shot, which is approved by WHO.

Although the AstraZeneca vaccine is not licensed for use in the United States, U.S. health officials consider individuals who have received two doses of the vaccine as fully vaccinated. (This doesn't apply to those with mixed vaccines, however). 

The following six vaccines currently meet WHO’s necessary criteria for safety and efficacy:

  • Oxford/AstraZeneca
  • Johnson and Johnson
  • Moderna
  • Pfizer/BionTech
  • Sinopharm
  • Sinovac

The CDC reportedly told airlines about the change earlier this week, "to help them prepare their systems,” Reuters reports.

"CDC will release additional guidance and information as the travel requirements are finalized,” the agency said.

The update comes after White House officials, last month, announced that the United States, starting in November, would ease travel restrictions for foreign air travellers who are fully vaccinated.

Until now, it hasn't been clear as to which vaccines would actually be allowed in the U.S. system.

READ MORE: U.S. extends land border restrictions with Canada; Biden lifting travel ban for fully vaxxed in Nov.

More clarity, however, is required regarding mixed vaccines and whether mixing AstraZeneca with either Pfizer or Moderna, for example, will translate into being fully vaccinated. 

There are at least 3.88 million fully vaccinated Canadians who received two different kinds of COVID-19 vaccines, which doesn't include those from Quebec where data on mixed vaccines is unavailable, reports the Canadian Press.

Reopening the U.S.

The U.S. relaxing its travel rules will enable fully-vaxxed foreign travellers from 33 countries, like China, India, Brazil and most of Europe, to enter the U.S. more freely.

Throughout the pandemic, the U.S. has barred most non-U.S. citizens who were in those countries within the past 14 days.

The update will change the way Canadians fly to the United States, too. During the pandemic, Canadians entering the U.S. by air have only been required to show a negative antigen test prior to boarding. 

The new policy will require all foreign travellers flying to the U.S. to show proof of vaccination before boarding, as well as proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within three days of their flight, officials said. 

It is unclear how the new policy will impact restrictions at the U.S.-Canada land border as the recently-announced changes apply to air travel only. 

The U.S.-Canada and Mexico land borders will be closed until at least Oct. 21, 2021. 

The land border has been closed to non-essential travel since March 2020, but Canada reopened its side to Americans on Aug. 9.

Don't miss a single travel story: subscribe to PAX today!  Click here to follow PAX on Facebook.