Biden Administration Extends COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate for Foreign Arrivals

Biden Administration Extends COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate for Foreign Arrivals
Travelers check in at Los Angeles International Airport in Los Angeles, Calif., on Dec. 28, 2022. (Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images)
Zachary Stieber

President Joe Biden’s administration has extended its COVID-19 vaccine mandate for foreign arrivals.

The mandate was extended to May 11, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced (pdf). The mandate had been set to expire on April 11. The previous extension was for three months.

The Biden administration previously announced its intention to end the COVID-19 emergency declarations on May 11.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre declined to say on April 4 whether Biden intends to rescind his proclamation, which prompted the traveler requirement. The TSA declined to say whether the White House directed it to only extend the mandate for a month or whether it plans to issue another extension.

“TSA will extend its security directive in support of CDC’s Order Implementing Presidential Proclamation on Safe Resumption of Global Travel During the COVID-19 Pandemic. Proof of COVID-19 vaccination will continue to be required for non-U.S. citizen, non-U.S. immigrants prior to traveling to the United States,” a spokesperson told The Epoch Times via email.

The TSA directive stems from an order issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which in 2021, per a presidential proclamation, imposed the vaccination requirement.

Foreign travelers who are not immigrants or citizens must present proof of COVID-19 vaccination under the directive.

The order also requires Department of Homeland Security officers to ensure noncitizens who have not provided proof of vaccination don’t board planes traveling to the United States.

Proof of vaccination can be a paper form or a digital document.

The proof must include a name and date of birth matching a person’s personal identifiers on their passport or other travel documents and must show the person has been “fully vaccinated” against COVID-19. That term means a person has received a full primary series, which for most vaccines is two doses.

Vaccines Not Effective

Two doses of the available COVID-19 vaccines provide little protection against infection or severe illness since the Omicron variant emerged in late 2021, according to studies and U.S. data. Boosters increase protection, but only temporarily, data shows. No clinical trial efficacy estimates are available for the updated boosters, introduced in fall 2022.
The CDC’s most recent version of the order, dated April 2022 (pdf), says that “vaccinations continue to play an important role in protecting the public from severe illness.” The agency cited research it published in its quasi-journal that covered August 2021 through January 2022.

The CDC acknowledged that “vaccines are less effective at preventing infection from Omicron as compared to other variants.”

The U.S. House of Representatives in February passed a bill to nullify the CDC’s order, but the Senate has not yet taken up the legislation. The bill nullifies the CDC order and “any successor or subsequent orders that require foreign persons traveling by air to show proof of a COVID-19 vaccination as a condition of entry and prohibits the use of federal funds to administer or enforce such a requirement.”