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Biden dropping vaccination mandates for travelers, workers

Changes take effect Friday, a day after public health emergency ends

A COVID-19 vaccination record card is pictured at the new mass vaccination site inside the former Lord & Taylor store at Tysons Corner Center in Virginia on April 19, 2021.
A COVID-19 vaccination record card is pictured at the new mass vaccination site inside the former Lord & Taylor store at Tysons Corner Center in Virginia on April 19, 2021. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

President Biden is lifting the COVID-19 vaccination mandate for federal workers and contractors and ending a requirement that foreign travelers to the U.S. provide proof of vaccination.

“Considering the progress that we have made, and based on the latest guidance from our public health experts, I have determined that we no longer need the international air travel restrictions that I imposed in October 2021,’’ Biden said in a proclamation Tuesday.

In his executive order scrapping the vaccine mandate for workers and contractors, Biden said 98 percent of federal employees and contractors have had at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine or have applied for or received an exemption.

[End of public health emergency causes cascade of changes]

“More broadly, my Administration has effectively implemented the largest adult vaccination program in the history of the United States, with over 270 million Americans receiving at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine,’’ Biden said in the order signed Tuesday. 

Both changes, which were previously announced, will take effect Friday. The administration also plans to lift requirements for health care workers.

The moves are the latest steps by the White House to wind down pandemic-related orders and restrictions. Biden last month signed legislation he urged Congress not to pass ending a national emergency for the coronavirus pandemic. A separate U.S. public health emergency declaration about the virus will end on Thursday.

Last week, the World Health Organization declared an end to the COVID-19 global health emergency. “However, that does not mean COVID-19 is over as a global health threat,’’ said Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “Last week, COVID-19 claimed a life every three minutes — and that’s just the deaths we know about.”

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