Which Vaccines Are Acceptable For US Travel?

Vaccine mandate for US travel

The White House has issued an official Proclamation stating the Covid 1-9 vaccines will be required for international travelers coming into the US after November 8, 2021. In order to qualify for entry, vaccines will have to be wither US Food and Drug Administration(FDA) approved or those that are authorized by World Health Organization (WHO) as Emergency Use Listing vaccines. This Proclamation was preceded by a press release by the US Department of State that is based on CDC guidance.

List Of Approved Vaccines For US Travel

All travelers have to be vaccinated with the complete series of the approved Covid vaccination. This means that if there are two doses, the traveler should have taken both does before boarding a flight to the US.

Below is the list of COVID-19 vaccines that are approved by the FDA or WHO

VaccineApproval
Pfizer-BioNTech Approved By FDA & WHO
ModernaApproved By FDA & WHO
Janssen (Johnson & Johnson)Approved By FDA & WHO
AstraZenca CovishieldApproved By WHO
SinavacApproved By WHO
Sinopharm BIBPApproved By WHO
CovaxinApproved By WHO

Please note

WHO approved Covaxin on November 3, 2021 for Emergency Use Listing. According to WHO, “Covaxin has been cleared for use in all age groups (18+) over two doses spaced four weeks apart. However, no recommendation has been made for use on children, and available data for use on pregnant women is insufficient to assess safety or efficacy.”

Fully Vaccinated – What Does That Mean?

To enter the US borders, you need to be fully vaccinated. Per CDC, taking the vaccine for travel eligibility has three components to it:

  1. Both parts of the two series vaccines are to be taken. 
  2. This means, if you take only one dose, you are not considered fully vaccinated. 
  3. To be considered fully vaccinated, you have to wait for two whole weeks after taking the final dose of the vaccine.

The above applies to all vaccines that have two doses – Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna VaccinesAstraZeneca / Oxford or Covishield Vaccine, Sinovac Vaccine and Sinopharm BIBP Vaccine

For vaccines like Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) which is also approved By FDA & WHO, you are considered fully vaccinated 2 weeks after you take the single dose, which is the one and only dose for it. 

What Are The Covid Vaccine & Testing Requirements To Enter The US After Nov 8, 2021?

Which Vaccines Are Acceptable For US Travel?
Morgantown, WV – 1 October 2021: Covid-19 vaccination record card showing three doses of Pfizer vaccine including booster shot

As the borders open for international travelers, some mandatory requirements have been put in place by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This is applicable to everyone entering the US either by air or land.

  • Show proof of being fully vaccinated against Covid-19. 
  • By being fully vaccinated, you have to have taken the complete series of any of the WHO approved Covid-19 vaccines 14 days before boarding a flight to the US. Please see the current list of approved vaccines here.
  • CDC also says those that have an Emergency Use Vaccine Listing from the World Health Organization, are also acceptable for travel. This includes doses developed by AstraZeneca Plc, as well as China’s Sinopharm Group and Sinovac Biotech Ltd.
  • Anyone, including a noncitizen who is a nonimmigrant who may be allowed to enter the country without being vaccinated will be asked to vaccinate within 60 days of entering and then show proof of the same.
  • Show proof of a negative pre-departure testing for COVID-19 taken a maximum of three days before.
  • The test should specifically be an RT-PCR test. Other tests and its results will not be acceptable. 
  • The test result should explicitly state “Negative”. And have the name, address, phone number as well as the passport number of the traveler.
  • Per CDC, all air travelers will have to provide proof of having arranged for post-arrival testing for COVID-19 as well as proof of having arranged to become fully vaccinated against COVID-19 after arriving in the United States
  • All air travelers will have to provide proof of having arranged to self-quarantine or self-isolate after arriving in the United States. Remember, the right travel insurance can provide coverage even during quarantine.
  • Agree to be re-tested on arrival. This can be either conducted randomly or at specific ports of entry with busy traffic.
  • All international airlines require that passengers wear a mask and an additional shield inside the flight, in the airports and at all closed spaces while in the US.
  • Submit personal information to facilitate contact tracing in the future.

Who Is Exempted From the Above Requirements?

Certain categories of non-citizen non-immigrants may be exempted from the CDC order for travel: 

  • Persons on diplomatic or official foreign government travel
  • Children under 18 years of age
  • Persons with documented medical contraindications to receiving a COVID-19 vaccine
  • Participants in certain COVID-19 vaccine trials
  • Persons issued a humanitarian or emergency exception
  • Persons with valid visas [excluding B-1 (business) or B-2 (tourism) visas] who are citizens of a foreign country with limited COVID-19 vaccine availability
  • Members of the U.S. Armed Forces or their spouses or children (under 18 years of age)
  • Sea crew members traveling with to a C-1 and D nonimmigrant visa
  • Persons whose entry would be in the national interest, as determined by the Secretary of State, Secretary of Transportation, or Secretary of Homeland Security (or their designees)

Vaccination Requirements For Green Card Holders Entering The US

Green card holders were not restricted by the travel ban imposed by the US government. As long as green card holders follow the above regulations of carrying a negative covid test, are fully vaccinated 14 days before traveling and submit personal information for the sake of contact tracing, they may enter the country with out any reservations.

Vaccination Requirements For US Citizens Entering The US

US citizens were not impacted by the travel ban either. They could freely move in and out of the country irrespective of the ongoing entry ban imposed by the US. However, like every traveler, US citizens have to get tested at least 72 hours before boarding a flight. They will have to show proof of a negative Covid test both before departure as well as on arrival in the US. While CDC hasn’t insisted on US citizens being fully vaccinated before undertaking a US travel, it is highly recommended by WHO. US citizens need not quarantine on arrival if they test negative.