Travel Vaccine Breaking News

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Jun 14, 2021 • 3:54 pm CDT

The Ministry of Public Health of Afghanistan confirmed the third national polio immunization campaign would run from 14 to 17 June 2021. The campaign aims to reach approximately 9.9 million children under the age of 5 across the country with polio vaccines and Albendazole deworming tablets.

The polio program has intensified efforts to eradicate both wild poliovirus type 1 (WPV1) and circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus type 2 (cVDPV2) outbreaks, which were exacerbated due to disruptions to polio campaigns because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

So far, WPV1 and cVDPV2 outbreaks have been contained in all accessible areas of the country.

However, poliovirus transmission continues in certain areas where bans on house-house vaccination persist, leaving millions of children vulnerable due to the program’s inability to reach them for extended periods of time.

“It is extremely concerning that over 3.3 million children will yet again miss polio vaccination in certain areas of the country,” commented Dr. Wahid Majrooh, the acting Minister of Public Health. “Polio eradication is a collective responsibility. I strongly urge all parties to allow unimpeded access to reach children with critical vaccinations and other essential services.”

Vaccinating every child through multiple doses of the polio vaccine is the only way to stop the poliovirus currently circulating in the country. However, since the beginning of 2021, one WPV1 and 40 cVDPV2 cases have been confirmed in Afghanistan. All of them originate in areas where the campaign has been unable to access children for immunization.

In the USA, the inactivated polio vaccine is most often given in the USA since 2000. It is administered by a shot in the arm or leg, depending on the person’s age, says the U.S. CDC.

The IPOL vaccine is a sterile suspension of three types of poliovirus: Type 1 (Mahoney), Type 2 (MEF-1), and Type 3 (Saukett). It is a highly purified, inactivated poliovirus vaccine with enhanced potency administered intramuscularly or subcutaneously.

Jun 13, 2021 • 9:08 am CDT

On June 11, 2021, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reissued Level 2 Travel Alerts for Africa and Asia regarding polio outbreaks in various countries.

Since 2000, the inactivated polio vaccine is most often given in the USA. It is administered by a shot in the arm or leg, depending on the person’s age, says the U.S. CDC. The oral polio vaccine is offered in other countries.

The CDC recommends that children get polio vaccinated to protect against poliomyelitis. The CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices Vaccine Recommendations is published on this webpage.

The WHO recently reported 1,226 polio cases of all forms were confirmed in 2020, compared to 138 in 2018.

On June 10, 2021, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative announced the Polio Eradication Strategy 2022-2026: Delivering on a Promise at a virtual event to overcome the remaining challenges to ending polio.

While polio cases have fallen 99.9% since 1988, polio remains a WHO Public Health Emergency of International Concern, and persistent barriers to reaching every child with polio vaccines and the pandemic have contributed to an increase in polio cases.

This strategy includes deploying proven tactics used against wild polio, improving outbreak response and streamlining management through the launch of new global and regional rapid response teams and broadening the use of a promising new tool – novel oral polio vaccine type 2 (nOPV2) – to combat type 2 cVDPVs, the most prominent variant.

Select countries began using nOPV2 in March of this year after WHO issued an Emergency Use Listing recommendation for the vaccine in November 2020. Clinical trials have shown that nOPV2 is safe and effective against type 2 polio while having the potential to stop cVDPV2 outbreaks more sustainably compared to the existing type 2 oral polio vaccine.

H.E. Félix Tshisekedi, President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, said in a press statement, “As Chair of the African Union, I call on every government to increase their commitment to protecting the gains of our monumental efforts and finishing the job against polio in Africa. Only then we will be able to say we delivered on our promise of a safer, healthier future for all our children.”

Jun 13, 2021 • 7:29 am CDT

Russian media reported on June 11, 2021, Greece's National Vaccination Committee has approved the entry into the country of tourists vaccinated with the Sputnik V vaccine.

The Sputnik V vaccine is based on adenovirus DNA, in which the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus gene is integrated. Adenovirus is used as a “container” to deliver the coronavirus gene to cells and start synthesizing the new coronavirus's envelope proteins, “introducing” the immune system to a potential enemy. This COVID-19 Vaccine has been authorized by 67 countries.

Greece requires tourists from Russia to have a certificate of COVID-19 vaccination, or a negative PCR test result, or a certificate of the transferred COVID-19 and the presence of antibodies.

"Greece will allow entry to the country travelers inoculated with any vaccines, including those which have not been approved by the EMA yet," said Kapodistrias Van Papaevangelou, who is also Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Athens.

Greek officials announced that several restrictions had been relaxed as of May 14, 2021.  “Entry and Exit Requirements” section below, as well as travel.gov.gr for more details.

On June 12, 2021, Greece registered 591 new coronavirus infections in the last 24 hours, with 2 of these identified at entry points to the country, the National Public Health Organization reported. There are also 21 deaths recorded in the last 24 hours, bringing the total of COVID-19 pandemic victims to 12,405. Of these, about 95% had an underlying condition and/or were 70 years old.

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Jun 11, 2021 • 4:39 pm CDT

Denmark-based Bavarian Nordic A/S announced today that the Company was recently engaged by Public Health England (PHE) and the Medicines and Health Products Regulatory Agency to supply IMVANEX® smallpox vaccine in response to new cases of monkeypox in the UK.

Two related cases were admitted to a hospital in Liverpool, England.

One was most likely infected in Africa, where the family arrived from a few days before the onset of disease, and a sibling case most likely infected on UK soil by the first case. 

Monkeypox is a rare but serious disease, which is endemic in Central and West Africa. Although it is less severe with an estimated fatality rate of up to 10%, the disease is quite similar to human smallpox, says PHE.

Paul Chaplin, President and CEO of Bavarian Nordic, commented in a press statement, “We are pleased to assist PHE rapidly in such an emergency. Vaccination is a critical measure to prevent and control the spread of diseases globally. Governments have an essential role in preparing for outbreaks by stockpiling vaccines and treatments so that they are readily available in events like this."

Bavarian Nordic previously delivered IMVANEX to PHE in connection with the first human cases of monkeypox in the UK in 2018 and later in 2019.

IMVANEX (MVA-BN) is approved by the European Commission for active immunization against smallpox and has also received approval for monkeypox by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (JYNNEOS) and Health Canada, the only vaccine approved for this indication in these territories.

On May 7, 2021, Bavarian Nordic confirmed the U.S. Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority had exercised the final $12 million option under the $202 million order for JYNNEOS awarded in April 2020.

Bavarian Nordic (OMX: BAVA) is a fully integrated vaccines company focused on developing, manufacturing, and commercializing life-saving vaccines.

Jun 11, 2021 • 2:58 pm CDT

The European Parliament gave final approval for the Digital COVID-19 vaccine certificate on June 9, 2021. European Union citizens can use this app to travel freely among European countries without quarantining or undergoing extra tests.
 
The program is expected to begin July 1, 2021

Individual nations will issue vaccine certificates, and all EU countries must recognize certificates issued by other EU countries. And personal data will not be shared with other countries.
 
Several countries have already begun introducing the system, including Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Greece, and Poland.
 
In a press release, the European Parliament stated, 'all EU countries must accept vaccination certificates issued in other member states for vaccines authorized by the European Medicines Agency. Member states can decide to accept other vaccine certificates.

Jun 11, 2021 • 10:33 am CDT

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), published on June 11, 2021, updated maps supporting the Council Recommendation on a coordinated approach to the restriction of free movement in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

These ECDC maps are updated weekly based on data reported by the EU Member States to The European Surveillance System database.

Furthermore, the ECDC reported on June 6th the total number of COVID-19 vaccine doses administered by 30 EU countries reached 273, 995,958. And this graph shows the total number of doses that manufacturers have distributed to each EU/EEA country.

Additionally, at the request of Member States, data on the daily number of new reported COVID-19 cases and deaths by EU/EEA countries are posted on this webpage.

As of June 7, 2021, the U.S. CDC issued updated Travel Alerts for various EU countries, which can be found at the CDC link.

Jun 10, 2021 • 10:37 pm CDT

Guests aboard the Royal Caribbean's Celebrity Millennium cruise ship tested positive for COVID-19, reported MarketWatch on June 10, 2021. The cruise ship was sailing out of the Caribbean island of St. Maarten.

The cruise line had required all guests to show proof of vaccination and a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours before sailing.

This voyage was one of the Royal Caribbean's first voyages in the region during 2021.

Royal Caribbean International is applying the recommendations of its Healthy Sail Panel of public health and scientific experts to provide a safer and healthier cruise vacation on all of its sailings. As of August 1, 2021, all guests age 12 and older must be fully vaccinated before departure.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) travel advisories, warnings, or recommendations relating to cruise travel are found at this link. As of May 2021, the CDC advises against sailing on a cruise ship during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Jun 10, 2021 • 2:51 pm CDT

The Japanese government decided on June 10, 2021, to lift the COVID-19 state of emergency in the Gunma, Ishikawa, and Kumamoto prefectures on June 13th, reported Kyodo News.

A press conference previously held by Japan's Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare, TAMURA Norihisa, confirmed the reduction in new COVID-19 cases.

However, the state of emergencies in Tokyo and Osaka prefectures are continuing as scheduled, with a termination date of May 31, 2021.

With the Tokyo Olympics 2020 Games planned to commence on July 23, 2021, time is running short for event participants to enter Japan. Certain foreign nationals are denied permission to enter Japan for the time being unless there are exceptional circumstances.

The U.S. Embassy and consulates in Japan continue to monitor closely COVID-19 conditions. There may be additional closure requests and COVID-19 mitigation measures put into place with little notice. U.S. citizens should carefully monitor local news and follow instructions from national and local authorities.

To notify US-based travelers of their health risks, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a Level 3 Travel Alert for Japan on June 7, 2021. This Alert stated, 'Because of the current situation in Japan, all travelers may be at risk for getting and spreading COVID-19 variants. And, unvaccinated travelers should avoid nonessential travel to Japan.'

The Government of Japan is currently vaccinating health care workers and individuals age 65 and up. The U.S. Embassy expects that U.S. citizens will receive vaccinations as they become available to their age group.

Moreover, 'Make sure you understand and follow all airline and destination requirements related to travel, testing, masking, or quarantine, which may differ from U.S. requirements.'

Jun 10, 2021 • 10:19 am CDT

The New England Journal of Medicine published an article on June 10, 2021, stating 'the global burden of dengue, a mosquito-borne viral acute febrile illness common throughout the tropics is worsening. Approximately 5% of patients have progression to severe dengue, including plasma leakage, shock, and hemorrhage, but they may also present with acute cholecystitis.'

As dengue continues to expand outside the tropics, more frequent importation and local transmission of DENV in the United States is expected. 

In evidence of this, in 2019, a total of 413 dengue cases were probably imported to Florida, including 14 cases of severe dengue (3.4%), predominantly in the Miami area. Most travel-associated cases reported recent travel to Cuba and were infected with dengue virus serotype 2 (DENV-2).

Ensuring appropriate patient care management, including close clinical monitoring and judicious use of intravenous fluids, can reduce dengue case-fatality rates. Clinicians should suspect dengue and order molecular testing for patients with acute febrile illness and relevant epidemiologic exposure because knowledge of this infection may alter clinical care.

To alert international travelers, the U.S. CDC issued a Level 1 Travel Alert in May 2021, stating 'Dengue is an ongoing risk in many parts of Central and South America, Mexico, and the Caribbean. Travelers to these areas of risk should protect themselves by preventing mosquito bites.

The CDC suggests people interested in dengue vaccination speak with a healthcare provider before traveling to at-risk areas. As of June 10, 2021, one dengue vaccine (Dengvaxia) is authorized in the USA and (1) a late-stage dengue vaccine candidate, TAK-003.

On May 5, 2021, the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices presented updated dengue lab testing considerations required for Dengvaxia vaccination. 

As of June 2, 2021, the CDC had confirmed 12 dengue cases in the USA and 254 dengue cases reported in Puerto Rico.

Jun 10, 2021 • 7:10 am CDT

Reuters reported Ukraine would not allow international travelers vaccinated with the Sputnik V vaccine into the country if they do not also provide a negative test for the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, the border service announced on June 10, 2021.

"In the last two days, there have been cases of foreigners trying to enter from abroad at checkpoints across Ukraine with documents on immunization with the Sputnik V vaccine," the border service said in a statement. "We emphasize that such a document does not give the right to enter Ukraine, as this vaccine is not included in the WHO list," it added.

The Sputnik V vaccine is now authorized in (67) countries worldwide.

The WHO's website states, 'If a vaccine has undergone a thorough evaluation of relevant data, testing of samples and WHO inspection of relevant manufacturing sites, and the outcome is positive, it is included in the WHO List of Prequalified Vaccines.'

As of June 10th, a new Sputnik V vaccine analysis published by the Kingdom of Bahrain may meet this WHO requirement.

As of June 8, the WHO's full listing of over 100 vaccines does not indicate Sputnik V vaccine authorization.

Jun 9, 2021 • 11:37 am CDT

The WSJ reported today the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is requiring updates to passenger and baggage weight estimates. Each airline must submit a plan by June 12, 2021, explaining which average weights for passengers and baggage they’ll use, including phones and clothing.

Airline officials say the weight estimates previously used for passengers and baggage are going up to 10%. That will affect some flights, possibly requiring that more passengers get bumped or more baggage left behind, said the WSJ.

Furthermore, the FAA will approve each airline’s plan.

This new initiative was outlined in a May 2021 FAA advisory.

The FAA Advisory Circular provided operators with guidance on developing and receiving approval for a Weight and Balance (W&B) control program for aircraft operated under Title 14 of the Code of Federal Registry.

Although the purpose is supposed to improve flight safety, it could also lead to fares based on a passenger's weight, warns public interest law professor John F. Banzhaf, B.S.E.E., J.D., Sc.D., George Washington University Law School.

Since many airlines already charge an additional fee if a passenger's bag is heavier than the airline decrees, similar principles could well be applied to airline passengers themselves, wrote Prof Banzhaf on June 9, 2021.

It is not illegal under federal law, not under most states and local jurisdictions, to discriminate against people who are obese.

Requiring obese air passengers to bear more of the costs they now impose on the majority who are not obese is consistent with the concept of differential health insurance premiums which Banzhaf and his law students helped develop. This concept was adopted by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, added Prof Banzhaf.

Current overweight passenger policies vary by airline.

 

Jun 8, 2021 • 8:54 pm CDT

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a Level 1 Travel Alert on June 3, 2021, regarding a diphtheria outbreak in the Dominican Republic.

In recent years, vaccination against diphtheria in the Dominican Republic has declined, and health officials there are now reporting cases of the disease among children throughout the country. Anyone who is unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated against diphtheria is at risk of getting sick when visiting the Dominican Republic.

In 2021, between epidemiological week #1 and #15, two countries have reported confirmed cases of diphtheria on the island of Hispaniola: the Dominican Republic with 12 confirmed cases including 9 deaths, and Haiti with 11 confirmed cases including 2 deaths.

Diphtheria is a serious infection caused by strains of bacteria called Corynebacterium diphtheriae that make toxins (poison). Infection can lead to difficulty breathing, heart failure, kidney failure, paralysis, and even death, says the CDC. Even with proper treatment, about 10% of people with respiratory diphtheria will die. Without treatment, up to half of the patients can die from the disease.

The CDC recommends diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (whooping cough) vaccination for all travelers.

The DTaP is only for children younger than 7 years old, while the Tdap vaccine is only for older people.

Because of age or health conditions, some people should not get certain vaccines or wait before getting them. Ask your healthcare professional for more information, says the CDC.

The Dominican Republic is the second-largest and most diverse Caribbean country, home to over 10 million people. Situated just two hours south of Miami, the Dominican Republic is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean on the north and the Caribbean Sea on the south, and nearly 1,000 miles of coastline.

Local airports and other ports of entry will perform a breath test on about 15% of arriving travelers and all those who present symptoms upon arrival. Passengers under the age of five and crew members are exempt from this procedure. Passengers who present a COVID-19 vaccination card and/or a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours before arrival in the Dominican Republic will be exempted from the random test. 

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Jun 8, 2021 • 5:32 pm CDT

Thailand's Department of Disease Control (DDC) announced on June 7, 2021, it launched a website for foreign nationals in the Bangkok and Pattaya areas to register for free COVID-19 vaccinations.  The current vaccination phase targets non-Thai nationals aged 60 and above and those with specific underlying health conditions.

The website notes there are only two vaccines presently offered: Sinovac's CoronaVac and AstraZeneca.  Both COVID-19 vaccines are approved for emergency use by the World Health Organization. 

The US Embassy Bangkok, Thailand Health Alert says 'Eligible U.S. citizens should first attempt to register at the hospital where they have a medical record.  If you currently do not have a medical record with a local hospital, the website lists other vaccination locations and their readiness status.'

On May 19, 2021, the U.S. CDC issued a Level 3 Travel Alert for Thailand, saying 'Make sure you are fully vaccinated before traveling to Thailand. And unvaccinated travelers should avoid nonessential travel to Thailand.'

Questions and concerns regarding vaccination and the registration website should be directed to DDC at [email protected].

Jun 8, 2021 • 2:38 pm CDT

Carnival Cruise Line confirmed on June 7, 2021, its plans to return to guest operations from Port of Galveston in Texas on July 3rd. However, Carnival's revised vaccine policy may conflict with the State of Texas.

Carnival Cruise stated in a press release, 'guests who have received their final dose of a U.S. FDA Authorized COVID-19 vaccine at least 14 days before the beginning of the cruise and have proof of vaccination, following current guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), may board their ship.

"We appreciate the progress and support for our U.S. restart from the CDC and other key federal agencies; however, the current CDC requirements for cruising with a guest base that is unvaccinated will make it very difficult to deliver the experience our guests expect, especially given the large number of families with younger children who sail with us."

"As a result, our alternative is to operate our ships from the U.S. during July 2021 with vaccinated guests," commented Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line.

Carnival's plans may need to be modified since Texas Governor Gregg Abbott signed Senate Bill 968 on June 7, 2021.

This legislation includes a clause that 'bans businesses from requiring proof of the vaccine from their customers.'

Businesses may still implement “COVID-19 screening and infection control protocols under state and federal law to protect public health,” according to the new law.

In reaction, Carnival spokesperson Vance Gulliksen notified the Houston Chronicle on June 8th, “The law provides exceptions for when a business is implementing COVID protocols per federal law, which is consistent with our plans to comply with the U.S. CDC’s guidelines.”

“We are evaluating the legislation."

On May 5, 2021, the CDC released the next phases of the Framework for Conditional Sailing Order (originally issued October 30, 2020) for cruise ships operating or seeking to operate in U.S. waters.

As of June 8, 2021, the State of Texas a very low SARS-CoV-2 inflection rate (<3%) and an increasing rate of COVID-19 vaccinations (23m+).

Jun 5, 2021 • 11:03 am CDT

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued new guidance for people vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccine outside the United States.

The CDC says 'people vaccinated outside the USA with a U.S. FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccine and have received all the recommended doses do not need any additional doses.

And people who received the first dose of an FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccine that requires two doses do not need to restart the vaccine series in the United States but should receive the second dose as close to the recommended time as possible.

However, some people may have received a COVID-19 vaccine that is not currently authorized in the USA. There are about 13 non-FDA Authorized vaccines available globally. 

The CDC says it does not have data on the safety or efficacy of receiving a COVID-19 vaccine currently authorized in the USA after receiving a non-U.S. FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccine.

Moreover, in some circumstances, people who received a COVID-19 vaccine not currently authorized in the USA may be offered revaccination with an FDA-authorized vaccine.

People who received all or some of the recommended doses of a COVID-19 vaccine that is neither authorized by the FDA nor listed for emergency use by WHO may be offered a complete FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccine series.

Furthermore, various countries require travel-related vaccinations such as yellow fever before entering or departing.

Most health agencies suggest speaking with a healthcare provider when considering these vaccination options. 

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