The United States has officially ended its ban on internationally vaccinated travelers to the United States.
Immediately following the signing of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 on Dec. 18, HHS Secretary Alex Azar determined that, “National defense requires the unquestioned obligation of the United States to maintain a robust defense, and this bill includes an essential piece of defense technology that will protect Americans from harm as we renew our nation’s readiness.”
“First and foremost, this was an obligation that has always been seen as of the utmost national importance,” said Azar. “In fact, I believe that without vaccines, in many other instances we would not be experiencing today what we do as a nation.”
“Through this legislation, for the first time in our nation’s history, we have begun to ensure all U.S. citizens can travel from the United States freely to countries that have implemented reasonable policies for vaccinations. This policy reflects a fundamental belief that a person who is fully immunized cannot and does not pose a public health risk to the United States.”
At this time, a backlog of over two million vaccine waivers has been waived in the United States by Veterans Affairs and military personnel. As the number of waivers continues to decline, an initiative will begin to completely eliminate the backlog.
From the standpoint of medical science, there is no doubt that fully vaccinated individuals have virtually no risk of acquiring or transmitting vaccine-preventable diseases. The fact that some nations have socialized medicine and mandatory vaccination policies on a national scale continues to underscore this point as well.
“With immunization, we are protecting people from disease, even in communities where they were most at risk of suffering the disease in the first place,” said Dr. Jim Marks, chief medical officer at MD Anderson Cancer Center. “This is the true spirit of Vaccines for America, and we look forward to this policy coming into effect so that everyone can travel freely across the globe without fear of disease. Let’s simply protect our citizens when they travel by protecting our health while we travel.”
Dr. Alan Whitaker, director of Science and Biotechnology at MD Anderson Cancer Center, said, “Thank you for passing this commonsense bill. It is essential to protecting and keeping our nation as a whole safe from vaccines.”