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COVID Vaccines for US Travel by CDC, Covaxin Accepted[Nov 2021]

America has a travel ban in place for about 33 countries that include EU Schengen Area, UK, Ireland, South Africa, India, China, Iran, and Brazil. The last travel ban by the Biden administration was on Travelers from India due to a surge in COVID cases in India on April 30th.   As situations are getting better with more vaccinations administered, many countries across the world are opening up for vaccinated individuals.

Finally, the US is opening up its border for these 33 countries starting from November 8th, 2021 for fully vaccinated individuals. The US Dept of State and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC) have released official guidance on the vaccinations that will be accepted by the US. This article covers all the vaccination-related details.

Background : US Travel Ban to be Lifted – Requirements

The US announced that they will lift the travel ban on November 8th and outlined the below requirements for individuals planning to enter the US after the travel ban is lifted :

  • The US travel ban will not be applicable to foreigners entering the US, who are fully vaccinated. 
  • The Negative COVID test requirements will continue to be in place as it exisits today.
  • Travlers need to show proof of vaccination and negative COVID test that was taken within 3 days from the travel date has to be shown before boarding the flight to the US.
  • The Airlines operating flights to the US need to collect the contact information of passengers for contact tracing.
  • The new rules to enter US will be based on individuals vaccination & tests status, rather than country of origin.
  • No quarantine requirements, if you are fully vaccinated and have a negative COVID test.

Now that we have some background on the lifting of the US travel ban, let’s get into the details of the vaccines.

What are the List of COVID Vaccines Accepted in USA for Travel as per CDC ?

On October 25th, President Bident signed a proclamation that lifts the travel ban from Nov 8th, 2021 and introduces new vaccination requirements to travel to the US. The US Dept of state released an official press note indicating the same outlining some guidance on the vaccinations that will be accepted.

As per US Dept of State, they will accept vaccines that are either approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or authorized by World Health Organization(WHO) for Emergency Use. Below is the screenshot of the official press release from the US Dept of State

US Dept of State Guidance on Lifting Travel Ban
US Dept of State Guidance on Lifting Travel Ban

This was again confirmed by them in the FAQs outlined.

What COVID Vaccines will be accepted for Travel to US
What COVID Vaccines will be accepted for Travel to US

CDC Guidance – List of Vaccines Accepted for US Travel

As per CDC guidance, the US will accept COVID-19 vaccinations that are approved for use by the US Food and Drug Administration(FDA) or for emergency use by World Health Organization (WHO). Below is the list of COVID-19 vaccines that are approved by the FDA or WHO with more details on their approval status and letters that indicate the same.

Vaccination NameApproved byOfficial Confirmation
Pfizer-BioNTechFDA, WHOApproval Letter
ModernaFDA, WHOApproval Letter
Janssen (Johnson & Johnson)FDA, WHOApproval Letter
AstraZeneca
Covishield
WHOApproval Status
SinovacWHOApproval Status
Sinopharm BIBPWHOApproval Status
COVAXINWHOApproval Info
List of COVID-19 Vaccines that are approved by WHO, FDA

Below is the screenshot of the official list of vaccines as per CDC

Accepted List of COVID 19 Vaccines for US Travelers after Travel Ban
Accepted List of COVID-19 Vaccines for US Travelers after Travel Ban

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COVAXIN Vaccine Accepted for US Travel

COVAXIN Vaccine that is widely administered in India was approved by WHO for emergency on November 3rd, 2021. CDC updated their official list of accepted vaccines and included COVAXIN on November 5th, 2021 on their website. See the above screenshot on the list of vaccines from the CDC Website that has COVAXIN as well. You can checkofficial list of vaccines on CDC website . Also, check COVAXIN Status from WHO Press Release.

Who are considered fully Vaccinated as per CDC ?

As per CDC, you need to be fully vaccinated with the recommended list of vaccines to travel to the US. Below are the CDC’s guidelines to be considered fully vaccinated based on the vaccination you take

  • Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna Vaccines : You are considered fully vacccinated 2 weeks after you take the second dose series of Moderna or Pfizer-BionTech vaccines. If you take only one dose, you are not considered fuly vaccinated. Also, if you take two doses, but have not completed 2 weeks, you are still not considered as fully vaccniated.
  • Janssen Vaccine by Johnson and Johnson : You are considered fully vaccinated 2 weeks after you take the single dose of Janssen vaccine. There is no concept of second dose for Janssen vaccine.
  • AstraZeneca / Oxford or Covishield Vaccine : As per CDC, the same guidance of FDA approved vaccines can be applied to WHO approved vaccines as well. Based on that, you are considered fully vaccinated 2 weeks after you take the second dose of the AstraZeneca/Oxford, which is also known as Covishied Vaccine
  • COVAXIN Vaccine : Similar to above, you are considered fully vaccinated 2 weeks after you take the second dose of COVAXIN vaccine.
  • Sinovac Vaccine : Similar to above, you are considered fully vaccinated 2 weeks after you take the second dose of Sinovac vaccine
  • Sinopharm BIBP Vaccine : Similar to above, you are considered fully vaccinated 2 weeks after you take the second dose of Sinopharm BIBP vaccine

Check the below screenshot of the Official Guidance from CDC website

Definition of Fully Vaccinated for US Travel COVID vaccines
Definition of Fully Vaccinated for US Travel COVID vaccines

Mix-and-match Vaccines – Are you fully Vaccinated ?

In general, CDC does not recommend mix-and-match of vaccines. but as it is a common practice across the world, they are giving guidance for mix-and-match vaccines as well. Let’s first understand what is mix-and-match.

What is Mix-and-match of Vaccines ?

Mix-and-match of vaccines means the two doses of vaccines you take can be different from each other. Example: You may take Moderna for the first dose and Pfizer-BioNTech for the second dose. Also, you may take FDA approved vaccine for first dose and WHO approved vaccine for Second Dose.Example: You may takeModerna for the first dose and then Covishied or AstraZeneca for the second dose.

Mix-and-match vaccines guidance by CDC to be considered fully vaccinated

As per CDC, for interpretation of vaccine records, individuals are considered fully vaccinated only after 2 weeks after they take the last dose as per the required doses for the vaccine type.

  • For Vaccines that require two doses(Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Covishied, etc.) : 2 Weeks after the second dose of the vaccine
  • For Vaccines that require Single dose (Janssen) : 2 weeks after the single dose of the vacccine.

Time duration between two doses: If the vaccines need two doses, the duration between the first and second does cannot be less than 17 days. Usually the recommend option is to have 21 days, but they will consider 4 days as grace period.

Below is screenshot of the Official Guidance from CDC website

Interpretation of Vaccine Records for Mix-and-Match vaccines
Interpretation of Vaccine Records for Mix-and-Match vaccines

For most up-to-date information check FDA COVID-19 Vaccines Page, WHO Vaccines Tracker Page

Who get exceptions for Vaccination Requirements to travel to US ?

CDC has given guidance that the below categories of individuals entering the US fall under exceptions and need not be fully vaccinated.

  • Children who are under 18 years of age.
  • Anyone traveling to US on diplomatic or official govt. purpose.
  • Anyone with documented medical situation that taking vaccine will harm them
  • Anyone participating in COVID-19 vaccine trials
  • Anyone issued a humanitarin or emergency exception
  • US Armed forces members, their spouses, and children
  • Sea Crew members traveling with C-1, D Non-immigrant visa.
  • Anyone traveling to US for national interest as deterined by US dept of State, DHS and related organizations.
  • Countries with limited vaccine availablity. Below is the screenshot of list of such countries as of Oct 25, 2021. Check CDC website for List of Countries with limited availability
List of Foreign Countries Exempted for Vaccine Requirements
List of Foreign Countries Exempted for Vaccine Requirements

Quarantine, Testing Requirments for not fully vaccinated

If you are not fully vaccinated based on the above exceptions and arrive in the US, you are required to follow the below steps:

  • Need to get COVID-19 viral test 3 to 5 days after arriving in US, unless you recovered from COVID-19 within 90 days
  • Self-quarantine for 7 full days after arrival in US, even if the viral test is negative.
  • Isolate yourself, if you are tested postive for COVID-19
  • If you plan to stay in US for 60 days or longer, you must get fully vaccinated.

If you plan to travel to US and have not got vaccination yet, you should get one of the approved COVID-19 vaccines by WHO or FDA.

What are your thoughts on the list of vaccines? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

   

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32 Comments

  1. Today Covaxin got WHO approval – In this case the CDC will amend the travel rules with all approved WHO vaccines.. Please update us once we hear this.

    Reply
  2. Hi…. We need to get our L1A visa stamped…. As we applied for extension from the US and got approved. However, now our visa needs stamping….

    Any advice??

    Reply
  3. Hello Kumar,
    Is everyone who has been vaccinated with Covaxin eligible for travel under the exception? Or only the selected few who were part of the Covaxin clinical trials?
    I have received both doses of Covaxin in May 2021. Will I be allowed to travel under the exception? Many Thanks

    Reply
  4. Hello,
    With new guidelines, does that mean from Nov 8th, if I’m fully vaccinated with Covaxin and 14 days have elapsed since my 2nd dose, I can still enter USA on B1 visa but quarantine for 7 days and then take a covid19 test? Is there any official guidelines describing quarantine requirements?

    Reply
  5. Hi Kumar,

    One of the articles mentions that

    “Those traveling for essential reasons — students and truck drivers, for example — will still be allowed to cross the borders, regardless of their vaccination status, until early January 2022.” https://www.cnn.com/travel/article/new-us-travel-rules-foreigners-vaccinations/index.html

    So, as per your understanding are H1b and H4 visa holders classified under the essential categories? And if so, will they be allowed to cross the border from Canada to the US irrespective of their vaccination status?

    Reply
    • mak,
      That is for land transport, who are commuting from Mexico and Canada.
      It totally varies by the role of H1B holder. H4 is not essential.

      Reply
      • Hi Kumar,

        Any update on land travel between Canada and US. I checked with CBP website there is still no information on that front for land travel for unjabbed.

        Do you have any additional info?

        Reply
  6. Please correct the typo.
    On October 15th, the White House made the announcement that the travel ban will be lifted from Nov 18th, 2021.

    ***The travel ban will be lifted from Nov 8th, 2021.

    Reply
  7. Hi Kumar,
    Could you please throw some light in below scenario:

    My mother going to get her (Covishield) 2nd dose on December-15th and she is planning to fly to US on December- 20th (right after 5 days after 2nd dose).

    There is any restrictions that person should fully vaccinated before 14 days of boarding date..?

    Reply
  8. Hi,

    Covishield is administered with gap of 3 months between 1st and 2nd dose as mandated by Indian government. Is it allowed as per the US Gov’t or WHO or CDC guidelines ? Will there be any problem for Indians who got Covishield jabs with 3 months gap ? Do we foresee any problems w.r.t same ?

    Reply
    • Bala,
      There is more guidance now. Yes, it is allowed. No, it will not be problem. They gave guidance that anytime after 17 days is fine.

      Reply
  9. Does this include people traveling on work visas (h-1b, etc.) or just tourists on (B1/B2 visa). Trying to understand if the ban is lifted for all foreign travelers or just certain visa categories

    Reply

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