Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Under Trump administration’s new rule, Americans can now travel without a medical exception to vaccines

The U.S. government on Monday announced that it is expanding its policy of allowing people who are fully vaccinated against all vaccines to travel to the United States without a medical reason. Previously, only people who have had two or more tetanus, varicella (chickenpox), measles, mumps, and rubella vaccines and who have “swallow” either one or both doses of a DPT vaccine would be exempted from having to travel without a medical reason.

The announcement comes as the Trump administration is facing bipartisan criticism for rolling back a key Obama-era regulation on vaccine safety. The current policy prohibits people who have not had two doses of measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine from traveling to the United States without a medical reason. The regulations were rolled back at the direction of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar. While the Trump administration has argued that the regulations limit travel to areas of low vaccination rates, the changes will allow people who are fully vaccinated in the U.S. and abroad to travel without a medical exception — as long as they follow recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In a statement, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said the updated waiver policy, which will go into effect on Tuesday, is “consistent with public health objectives.”

This is the agency’s second attempt to roll back the policy: in 2017, the Trump administration rolled back the rule and said the CDC-mandated vaccinations mandate should be “strongly encouraged.” Instead, the rule was added to the 10-page policy manual for travelers that applies to all immigrants and tourists entering the U.S.

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