The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention moved Thursday to formally loosen its COVID-19 vaccination requirement on foreign visitors, which will now allow some to board flights into the U.S. with only a single dose of a COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer or Moderna.
“Because some traveler vaccine records might not specify whether recent Moderna or Pfizer doses received were bivalent, CDC will consider anybody with record of a single dose of Moderna or Pfizer vaccine issued on or after August 16, 2022, to meet the requirements,” the agency said in updates published Thursday to its website.
The agency said it chose August because it is the “earliest that travelers could have received a bivalent vaccine.”
The change comes after the CDC and the Food and Drug Administration decided earlier this month to the COVID-19 vaccine schedule, allowing for most unvaccinated Americans to skip the original two “monovalent” mRNA shots many got early in the pandemic.
Instead, virtually all adults are able to be “up to date” on their shots after getting a single “bivalent” dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, regardless of what they have or have not gotten previously.
Officials for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services told stakeholders this week that they would also consider a single dose of these shots enough to be “fully vaccinated” under their requirements for healthcare workers.
“We note that if someone is currently unvaccinated, they can meet this rules requirements by receiving one dose of the new bivalent vaccines,” CMS official Lauren Oviatt said Wednesday at a webinar.
The CDC’s change come as a potential end to the requirement is nearing.
Multiple travel industry officials have said that the requirement on foreign visitors, which has resulted in a handful of high-profile spats over unvaccinated athletes and celebrities being denied entry into the country, is widely expected to be allowed to expire.
Many countries have already long-since eased or ended their vaccination requirements on travelers.
The Transportation Security Administration last moved to renew the rule earlier this month only through May 11, the same day as the public health emergency is due to end.
The White House first ordered the requirement in October 2021. At the time, President Biden tasked Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra with recommending every month whether it was still needed.
Asked whether Becerra has decided to end the rule, a spokesperson for the Department of Health and Human Services said there was no update to share on the future of the requirement.