Can I travel to the US if I have the AstraZeneca vaccine?

At present, the AstraZeneca vaccine has not been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

Joanna Whitehead
Tuesday 21 September 2021 12:25 BST
US travel restrictions: Vaccinated travellers from UK and EU allowed to enter from November

The news that travel between the UK and the US is set to resume has come as a relief to both holidaymakers and the travel industry.

Travel to the States from Britain has been frozen for nearly all non-residents since March 2020, thanks to a series of presidential proclamations.

Pre-pandemic, the London to New York aviation corridor was one of the busiest - and most profitable - in the world, with some 30 flights per day between the two cities.

On Monday 20 September, a White House official confirmed that the US is is set to reopen to all foreign nationals from “early November”.

However, entry will only be permitted for travellers who have been double vaccinated.

But will the US accept the AstraZeneca vaccine for travel?

Here’s everything we know so far.

What is the US position on the AstraZeneca vaccine?

At present, the AstraZeneca vaccine has not been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The vaccine, which was developed in Oxford, has been reviewed and approved for use by the World Health Organisation (WHO), the European Medicines Agency (EMA), The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) and SAGE.

However, gaining FDA approval for the UK vaccine has been a long and convoluted process, hindered by the blood clot concerns that blighted its rollout.

AstraZeneca has now submitted data to the FDA for approval, although there are concerns that this could take months to be authorised.

Despite this, New York added AstraZeneca to its list of acceptable vaccines accepted for proof of inoculation to enter many indoor venues in August, indicating that a more flexible approach may be adopted more widely.

What have officials said about US travel for those who have received the AstraZeneca vaccine?

US chief medical adviser Dr Anthony Fauci has suggested that British travellers who have been vaccinated with the AstraZeneca jab will be allowed into the US.

Dr Fauci told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I don’t believe there’s any reason to believe that people who have received the AZ vaccine should feel that there is going to be any problem with them.”

He added: “Given that we have a substantial amount of information on the AZ vaccine – again without being definitive about it – I would predict that there would not be a problem there.”

He noted that the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) national public health agency will make the final decision on which vaccines will be recognised for US entry.

Elsewhere, a spokesperson for Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was “confident” the AstraZeneca jab would be recognised by US border officials.

When quizzed by reporters in New York on whether the US would accept British travellers who had received the AstraZeneca vaccine, the spokesperson replied: “I have got no indications that it won’t be.

“I am confident that every vaccine we have used, any vaccine received in the UK and approved by the NHS, obviously signed off by the MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency), WHO (World Health Organisation) will be applicable.”

When will we know more?

The CDC is set to unveil a contact tracing order that will require airlines to collect vaccine data on travellers coming into the US, with airlines permitted to hold this information for 30 days, CNN reports.

Currently, US officials are yet to confirm an exact date for the blanket travel ban to the US to be lifted, simply stating “early November”.

Once this date is announced, double-jabbed travellers will be able to enter on the normal terms: presenting a visa or an Esta (America’s online entry permit). They will not need to quarantine on arrival, although a pre-departure negative test will be required.

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