Updated May 1, 2023, 5:37pm EDT
politicsNorth America

US to end COVID vaccine requirement for international arrivals on May 11

Joe Biden
REUTERS/Leah Millis

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The News

The White House said Monday that it was ending COVID vaccine requirements for international air travelers to the U.S., federal employees, healthcare workers and Head Start educators starting May 11 — the same day the pandemic’s public health emergency is set to expire.

“While I believe that these vaccine mandates had a tremendous beneficial impact, we are now at a point where we think that it makes a lot of sense to pull these requirements down,” White House COVID-19 coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha told The Associated Press on Monday.

The mandates were first ordered by President Joe Biden in 2021 and sparked legal and political battles.

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The vaccination requirement for federal employees has been unenforceable for months after the mandate was blocked by federal courts since January 2022.

Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention relaxed the mandate for international travelers, considering anyone who received a single dose of a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine after Aug. 16, 2022, as fulfilling it.

The mandate — which became the focus of a culture war — even prompted Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to offer to bring tennis star Novak Djokovic to Florida via boat for last year’s Miami Open after he missed several tournaments over his refusal to get vaccinated.