- The US House passed a bill to end mandatory visitor vaccinations, awaiting Senate and presidential approval.
- The White House opposes the bill, planning a review after the COVID emergency ends on May 11.
- Removal of vaccine mandates may ease travel but previously hindered visits from Mexico and Canada, affecting US-bound travel for reunions.
House Approval of Bill
Washington, DC–The United States House of Representatives has approved the Republican bill to drop compulsory vaccination for those visiting the country on February 8. Still, it has to pass the Senate before President Biden can sign it into law.
Per reports, Rep. Thomas Massie sponsored the bill, which was approved in a 227 to 201 vote.
White House Response
The White House (in response) released a statement expressing opposition to the bill, stating that they would review the policy when the COVID public health emergency declaration ended on May 11.
“…This policy has allowed loved ones across the globe to reunite while reducing the spread of COVID-19 and the burdens it places on the health care system in the United States…” read the official statement.
Travel Impact and Plea to End Mandate
In June last year, the United States government dropped its testing mandates which exempted visitors from producing negative PCR test results upon entry. However, it still required all visitors (except citizens, nationals, and permanent residents of the US) to provide proof of vaccination upon request.
According to another report, the US Travel Association made a strong plea to the Biden administration to end the vaccine mandate stating that the US is the only country worldwide that still requires visitors to be vaccinated.
“The need for this requirement has long since passed, and we appreciate the bipartisan action by the US House to end this outdated policy,” said Tori Emerson Barnes, Executive Vice President of Public Affairs and Policy of the US Travel Association, in a report.
The vaccine mandate has prevented many from neighboring countries, including Mexico and Canada, from visiting friends and family living in the US.
What We Think
The debate over dropping mandatory vaccinations for visitors reflects a balancing act between public health safety and facilitating international travel.
While easing restrictions may encourage travel and reunions, it’s crucial to weigh potential health risks and consider a phased, well-monitored approach.
The White House’s stance indicates a cautious approach linked to the end of the public health emergency, highlighting the need for a nuanced policy that safeguards both public health and travel accessibility. It’s a delicate balance requiring careful consideration of global health concerns and the desire for increased mobility and connection.