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Can all fully vaccinated foreign travelers enter the United States?

WWhy can’t some people vaccinated against COVID-19 make it to the United States?

Because they might not be vaccinated with vaccines recognized by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or the World Health Organization (WHO).

When the overseas travel restrictions were lifted in November, the United States required adults coming to the country to be fully immunized with vaccines approved or cleared by the FDA or authorized by the WHO.

Among the most widely used vaccines that do not meet these criteria are the Russian Sputnik V vaccine and the Chinese CanSino vaccine. Sputnik V is licensed for use in over 70 countries while CanSino is licensed in at least 9 countries. WHO is still waiting for more data on the two vaccines before making a decision.

Vaccines recognized by the FDA and WHO undergo rigorous testing and review to determine that they are safe and effective. And of the vaccines used internationally, experts say some are unlikely to be recognized by agencies.

“Not all of them will be evaluated in clinical trials with the necessary rigor,” said Dr. William Moss, executive director of the Johns Hopkins International Vaccine Access Center.

An exception to the US rule is for people who have received a full series of Novavax vaccines in an advanced stage study. The United States is accepting participants who received the vaccine, not a placebo, as it was a rigorous study overseen by an independent oversight committee.


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