AstraZeneca poised to get green light for US travel

October 13, 2021
Image: US Food and Drug Administration.

US health officials have said people immunized with AstraZeneca will be able to visit America when travel restrictions change next month.

Several media outlets quoted the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as saying people will be able to fly to the States if they’ve received shots of vaccines approved or recognized for emergency use by the World Health Organization or the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

“Six vaccines that are FDA authorized/approved or listed for emergency use by WHO will meet the criteria for travel to the US,’’ a CDC spokeswoman told Reuters.

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The CDC said it had been informing airlines of its decision to help them prepare their systems but that it would release additional guidance and information as travel requirements were finalized.

The CDC website currently lists Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson as vaccines approved and authorized in the US. But the WHO also recognizes AstraZeneca as well as China’s Sinopharm and Sinovac vaccines.

US industry group Airlines for America said it was pleased by the CDC decision to expand the list of authorized vaccines and it looked forward to working with the Biden administration “to implement this new global vaccine and testing framework by early November”.

The Biden Administration announced last month that it would allow fully vaccinated travelers to enter the US provided they had a negative COVID test prior to travel.

The move superseded the so-called 212f restrictions preventing anyone from entering the US if they had been in 33 specific countries including the UK, Ireland, all Schengen countries, Brazil, South Africa, India, and China within the last 14 days.

While it was always assumed the three vaccines would be approved for incoming travelers but that was not the case at the time of the announcement.

Confirmation that the CDC is including the additional vaccines will be welcome news to millions of travelers around the globe.

The Oxford University vaccine has been approved for use in scores of countries either as Oxford-AstraZeneca, Vaxzevria or Covishield. The Chinese vaccines have also been widely used.

The CDC has been contacted for comment.