Under-18s to be exempt from US travel vaccination rules

The US government has announced details of its travel policy for international visitors ahead of the reopening of its border to fully-vaccinated travellers from November 8.

The Biden administration confirmed that children under 18 would be exempt from the vaccine requirements, in addition to people with some medical issues.

It also confirmed international travellers would continue be required to present a negative Covid-19 test taken within 72 hours of departure.

Guidance for travel from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that “passengers must be tested with a viral test that could be either an antigen test or a nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT)” such as a PCR or LAMP test.

The CDC had previously said it would accept any vaccine authorised by the US or the World Health Organization.

Airlines will be required to confirm the last dose of a vaccine was administered at least two weeks prior to travel and will also need to collect passenger information to be used by the CDC and public health officials for contact tracing if required.

In a White House press briefing, a senior administration official said digital vaccination certificates would be accepted as long as they are “mapped against US requirements”.

The official added the US government had worked with various airlines and partner governments to look at the alignment of requirements.

In a proclamation issued on Monday confirming the lifting of restrictions from November 8, President Joe Biden said: “I have determined that it is in the interests of the United States to move away from the country-by-country restrictions previously applied during the Covid-19 pandemic and to adopt an air travel policy that relies primarily on vaccination to advance the safe resumption of international air travel to the United States.”

US Travel Association executive vice-president of public affairs and policy Tori Emerson Barnes said: “US Travel has continuously advocated for the safe reopening of our borders, and today’s guidance detailing how international air travellers can prepare for resumed travel to the United States starting November 8 provides much-needed clarity for planning.

“We are grateful this additional detail has been made available as we move to reopening to fully vaccinated international travelers, and we look forward to similar guidance in coming days for those qualified visitors who plan to enter via our northern and southern land borders as well.”

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