Travel Vaccine Breaking News

Travel vaccine breaking news brought to you by Vax Before Travel.

Nov 29, 2021 • 5:40 am CST

The UK Department of Health and Social Care announced two requirements related to the new SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus variant known as Omicron.

First, effective November 30, 2021, international travelers arriving into the country will be required to take a PCR test on or before day #2 and self-isolate until they have received a negative test result.

Free NHS tests are not valid for this purpose, but PCR tests can be purchased from private providers.

Additionally, face coverings will be compulsory in retail shops and other settings such as banks, post offices, and hairdressers.

And, when using public transport, face coverings are required unless individuals are exempt from doing so.

This update adds to the measures implemented earlier this week to prevent the spread of the new variant.

Previous measures include travel restrictions and 10-day isolation requirements for close contacts of anyone who has tested positive for the Omicron variant .... regardless of whether they have been vaccinated.

Nov 27, 2021 • 9:25 am CST

The World Health Organization (WHO) verified this week's influenza activity remained low across the globe.

National influenza laboratories from about 100 countries reported that only (.007%) tested specimens were positive for influenza.

The WHO report for mid-November 2021 found:

  • In the temperate zones of the northern hemisphere, influenza activity remained at inter-seasonal levels.
  • In the Caribbean and Central American countries, sporadic influenza A and B virus detections.
  • In tropical South America, no influenza detections were reported.
  • In tropical Africa, a few influenza detections of predominately influenza A and some influenza B viruses were reported. 
  • In South-East Asia, few influenza A(H3N2) and influenza B detections were reported from Malaysia.
  • In the temperate zones of the southern hemisphere, South Africa had increased influenza activity reported out of season.

A listing of U.S. FDA authorized influenza vaccines are found on this Precision Vaccinations webpage

Nov 26, 2021 • 5:12 pm CST

The European Commission (EC) President von der Leyen issued a media statement today on the new SARS-CoV-2 virus variant known as Omicron (B.1.1.529).

'We do know that mutations could lead to the emergence and spread of even more concerning variants of the virus that could spread worldwide within a few months.

It is now essential that all of us in Europe act very swiftly, decisively, and united.

The EC has proposed to Member States on November 26, 2021, to activate the 'emergency brake' on travel from countries in southern African and other countries affected to limit the spread of the new variant.

All air travel to these countries should be suspended.

And they should be suspended until we have a clear understanding of the danger posed by the new Omicron variant.

Furthermore, travelers returning from this region should respect strict quarantine rules,' concluded the President's remarks.

According to the ECDC, travel-related cases have been detected in Belgium, Hong Kong, and Israel as of November 26, 2021.

The Omicron variant is the most divergent variant that has been detected in significant numbers during the pandemic so far. It belongs to Pango lineage B.1.1.529, with a high number of S-gene mutations compared to the original coronavirus.

The variant is characterized by 30 changes, three small deletions, and one small insertion in the spike protein; of these, 15 are in the receptor-binding domain.

This variant was first detected in samples collected on November 11, 2021, in Botswana and on November 14, 2021, in South Africa. 

Nov 26, 2021 • 9:32 am CST

The U.K. Health Security Agency (UKHSA) announced today that the government is taking decisive preventive action against a new  SARS-CoV-2 betacoronavirus variant (Omicron) by introducing travel restrictions for certain African countries added to the travel Red List.

British nationals arriving (direct commercial and private flights) from these six countries between midday Friday and Sunday afternoon, who have been in these countries within the last ten days, must quarantine at home for ten days and take PCR tests on day two and day 8, even if they already have a lateral flow test.

Furthermore, non-UK and Irish residents who have been in these countries in the previous ten days will be refused entry into England.

However, this does not apply to those who have stayed airside and only transited through any of these countries while changing flights.

And beginning in the afternoon on November 28, 2021, visitors from South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Zimbabwe, and Namibia will be required to book and pay for a government-approved hotel quarantine facility for ten days.

This action is in response to the variant 'B.1.1.529' being declared a variant under investigation by the UKHSA.

'We're taking these precautionary measures to protect public health and the progress we've made so far through our successful vaccination program.' said the UKHSA.

NewsNodes launched a temporary tracker indicating 87 confirmed and over 900 probable cases. 

No B.1.1.529 cases have been identified in the U.K., as of 9 am C.T. in the U.S. on November 25, 2021.

 

 

Nov 25, 2021 • 7:47 am CST

The WHO's Emergency Committee announced on November 23, 2021, it reviewed the data on wild poliovirus (WPV1) and circulating vaccine-derived polioviruses (cVDPV) reported in various countries during 2021.

Three additional countries have been infected with cVDPV2, bringing the total number of currently cVDPV2 infected countries to 30 in three WHO Regions (African, Eastern Mediterranean, and European).

The three newly infected countries resulted from the international spread of cVDPV2, namely Guinea Bissau, Mauritania, and Ukraine.

The number of cVDPV2 cases in 2021 totals 420, of which 266 have occurred in Nigeria.

The Committee unanimously agreed that the risk of international spread of poliovirus remains a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) and recommended the extension of Temporary Recommendations for three months.

The Committee recognizes the concerns regarding the lengthy duration of the polio PHEIC but concluded that there are still significant risks despite apparent progress made in the two endemic countries.

Therefore, the coming three months would be a critical period to monitor the situation closely. 

To alert Americans, the U.S. CDC recently reissued two high-level Travel Advisories for international destinations that are considered high risk for polio.

'Before travel to any high-risk destination, CDC recommends that adults who previously completed the full, routine polio vaccine series receive a single, lifetime booster dose of a polio vaccine,' says the CDC.

A listing of polio vaccines can be viewed on this webpage.

On November 1, 2021, the CDC issued a Level 2 Advisory for Africa.

Previously, the CDC issued a Level 2 Advisory on October 14, 2021, for Asia and Eastern Europe.

Polio is a crippling and potentially deadly disease that affects the nervous system.

Because the virus lives in the feces of an infected person, people infected with the disease can spread it to others when they do not wash their hands well after defecating. People can also be infected if they drink water or eat food contaminated with infected feces.

Nov 24, 2021 • 3:40 pm CST

What you need to do when visiting England for the holidays depends on whether you qualify as 'fully vaccinated' or not. This evolving term can cause international travelers confusion.

To qualify under the fully vaccinated rules for travel to England, the Department for Transport and Department of Health and Social Care stated on November 22, 2021, people must have proof of vaccination with an entire course of an approved vaccine.

For example, if you were vaccinated with a two-dose of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine, you must have had both doses to be considered fully immunized for travel to the UK.

And, you must complete the course at least 14 days before you arrive in England.

This applies in all cases, even if you've recently recovered from COVID-19 and have natural immunity!

You can still travel to England if you do not qualify as fully vaccinated but you must follow different rules.

The Approved vaccines and list of countries and territories with approved COVID-19 proof of vaccination for travel to England are posted on this webpage.

India-based Bharat Biotech's Covaxin vaccine is the newest addition to this list.

Covaxin (BBV152) is an inactivated COVID-19 vaccine that uses adjuvant Alhydroxiquim-II to boost immune response longer-lasting immunity.

Inactivated vaccines do not replicate and are unlikely to revert and cause pathological effects, says the U.S. CDC. The vaccine's adjuvant was developed with funding from the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

Furthermore, the CDC issued a Level 4: COVID-19 Very High travel advisory regarding visiting the UK during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nov 23, 2021 • 5:05 pm CST

As of Monday, November 22, 2021, the Government of Greece is restricting access for unvaccinated individuals to many categories of businesses and public services, reported the U.S. Embassy and Consulate in Greece.

Under the new rules, unvaccinated adults:

  • Cannot access/enter: Enclosed eating areas, entertainment facilities (cinemas, theaters), museums, exhibition centers, fitness centers, and sports venues.  These facilities may be accessed only by those who are fully vaccinated or have documentation of recovery from COVID-19.
  • Can enter only with a negative lab rapid test or PCR test: Unvaccinated individuals seeking access to churches, schools, public and private sector places of work, retail shops, hair salons, or outdoor eating areas may enter by presenting a negative laboratory rapid test no older than 48 hours or a PCR test no older than 72 hours.
  • Can enter with no documentation required: Unvaccinated individuals can enter supermarkets, bakeries, sweet shops, pharmacies, and urban public transportation.

However, children aged 4 to 17 may access the top two categories of facilities with a negative self-test taken within the last 24 hours, documented via the Self-Test Declaration form.  

And children under four do not need to show any documentation.

The U.S. Mission in Greece adopts the following guidelines and entry procedures to comply with Greek restrictions and Executive Order 14043.  

Also, on November 22, 2021, people ages, five and older must show proof of complete COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test result to enter the U.S. Embassy Athens and Consulate General Thessaloniki.  

Visitors, including passport and notarial applicants, must provide proof of vaccination (the Greek or E.U. digital COVID certificate, VAMS vaccination certificate, CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Record card, or Vaccine Attestation Form) or other documentation according to age category. 

Individuals requesting emergency assistance from the Consular Section will not be prevented from doing so regardless of vaccination status.

The U.S. Embassy Athens can be reached at +30 210-721-2951, or, [email protected].

Furthermore, please be advised that the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Athens will be closed on November 24 and November 25, 2021.

Note: The U.S. Department of State issued a Level 4 Travel Advisory for Greece in August 2021.

Nov 22, 2021 • 4:49 pm CST

The U.S. Department of State issued a Level 4 Travel Advisory today saying 'do not travel to Germany due to COVID-19, and, when visiting Germany, exercise increased caution due to terrorism.

Visit the U.S. Embassy's COVID-19 page for more information regarding the pandemic and related in Germany.

Additionally, terrorist groups continue plotting possible attacks in Germany and may attack with little or no warning.

Terrorists may target tourist locations, transportation hubs, markets/shopping malls, local government facilities, hotels, clubs, restaurants, places of worship, parks, major sporting, and cultural events, educational institutions, airports, and other public areas.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also issued a Level 4 Travel Health Notice for Germany on November 22, 2021, indicating a very high level of COVID-19 in the country.

Before planning any international travel, please review the CDC's specific recommendations for fully vaccinated and unvaccinated travelers.

And, the CDC suggests various Routine and Travel Vaccines when visiting Germany.

If you decide to travel to Germany:

  • See the U.S. Embassy's webpage regarding COVID-19.
  • Be aware of your surroundings when traveling to tourist locations and crowded public venues and follow the instructions of local authorities.
  • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Program to receive Alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
  • U.S. Embassy Berlin - Clayallee 170 - 14191 Berlin - Federal Republic of Germany.... [email protected]

U.S. citizens who travel abroad should always have a contingency plan for emergencies!

Nov 21, 2021 • 2:10 pm CST

The local TV station in Orlando Flordia FOX 35  reported on November 20, 2021, it obtained a copy of an internal Disney memo distributed to cast members addressing changes to its COVID-19 vaccine policy. 

The Disney memo says more than 90% of Florida cast members have verified they are fully vaccinated.

The company's response to its COVID-19 vaccine policy update is inserted below:

'As you know, in July 2021, the company announced that based on the recommendations of scientists, health officials, and our medical professionals that the COVID-19 vaccine provides the best defense against the virus, the company was implementing a mandatory vaccination policy.

Under our policy, all U.S.-based salaried and hourly non-union employees, as well as employees covered by a collective bargaining agreement that adopts this policy, are required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as a condition of their continued employment.

The company's view of the wisdom of that approach has not changed.

"Due to the passage this week of a new Florida law on employer vaccine mandates, and the federal OSHA Emergency Temporary Standard mandating the vaccine being stayed, we must pause the enforcement of our policy for Florida-based Cast Members and employees.

"As we assess the full impact of this new legislation, we are immediately pausing the enforcement of our mandatory vaccination policy for Florida-based Cast Members and employees until further notice.

"All Florida-based Cast Members and employees who have not verified full vaccination will be required to follow our safety protocols for unvaccinated Cast Members, including face coverings and physical distancing.

"While Florida-based Cast Members and employees do not currently have to verify vaccination status, they may still do so through the TrustAssure process.

Cast Members and employees who do not verify vaccination status through the TrustAssure process will be considered unvaccinated.

"All pending requests by Florida-based Cast Members and employees for an accommodation exempting them from the company's vaccine mandate will be considered on hold for the time being and will not be evaluated by the company.  

Should the company later resume its accommodations process in Florida, pending accommodation requests will be evaluated at that time."

Regarding Disney customers, the company website says: Please make sure that you have reviewed any advisories or restrictions that may be in place for travel to Florida. There is an inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 exists in any public place where people are present. 

Visit https://floridahealthcovid19.gov/travelers/ for information. 

Nov 21, 2021 • 1:49 pm CST

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) confirmed another H9N2 avian influenza case in southwest China. The new case involved a 39-year-old man from Guizhou prefecture who died from his infection.

The ECDC reported no other related cases were detected.

China had previously reported five other H9N2 cases over the past six months, according to data from Hong Kong's Centre for Health Protection.

H9N2 is common in Asian poultry, and sporadic infections occur in people who have contact with poultry or their environments. However, infections are usually mild and typically reported in children.

When avian influenza viruses circulate in an area, the people involved in high-risk tasks such as sampling sick birds, culling and disposing of infected birds, eggs, litter, and cleaning contaminated premises should be trained to protect themselves.

Respiratory transmission occurs mainly by droplets, disseminated by unprotected coughs and sneezes.

There are four types of influenza viruses: A, B, C, and D.

Wild aquatic birds, such as wild ducks, geese, swans, gulls, shorebirds, and terns, are the natural hosts for most influenza type A viruses, says the U.S. CDC.

People can be infected with various influenza A viruses circulating in animals, such as avian influenza virus subtypes A(H5N1) and A(H9N2) and swine influenza virus subtypes A(H1N1) and (H3N2).

Influenza A vaccines are selectively available and are different than the typical annual flu shot.

Nov 19, 2021 • 2:54 pm CST

The Global Polio Eradication Initiative reported on November 17, 202, the west Africa country of Nigeria confirmed additional circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus type 2 (cVDPV2) infections.

Nigeria reported six new cases, three from Bauchi state, plus one from Gombe, Katsina, and Yobe states.

Year to date, Nigeria has reported 280 cases. However, during 2020, Nigeria reported only 8 cases.

The International Health Regulations classify Nigeria as a state infected with cVDPV2 with the potential risk of international spread. It is, therefore, subject to temporary recommendations as of August 2021.

Polio is a crippling and potentially deadly disease that affects the nervous system, says the U.S. CDC.

Because the virus that causes polio lives in the feces of an infected person, people infected with the disease can spread it to others when they do not wash their hands well after defecating.

And, people can also be infected if they drink water or eat food contaminated with infected feces.

To alert international travelers of their health risks, the CDC issued a Level 2 Travel Advisory on November 1, 2021, for the polio-belt in Africa, which includes Nigeria. 

Adult travelers that (1) previously completed the entire routine polio vaccine series, (2) have not yet received an adult booster dose, and (3) are going to any of the destinations listed should receive a single, lifetime booster dose of a polio vaccine, says the CDC.

Even those who have been sick with polio previously may need a booster dose of a polio vaccine.

Furthermore, to help prevent the international spread of polio, the World Health Organization recommends that the destinations listed require residents and long-term (4 weeks or more) visitors to show proof of polio vaccination before leaving the country.

Visit this PrecisionVaccinations webpage to see a listing of Authorized Polio Vaccines.

Note: There is an outbreak of yellow fever in Nigeria. Travelers to Nigeria should take steps to prevent yellow fever by getting vaccinated at least ten days before travel.

Nov 18, 2021 • 8:42 pm CST

The U.S. Embassy in Bogota advised U.S. citizens on November 17, 2021, there has been increased criminal activity throughout Cartagena as Covid-19 restrictions have been reduced, and extra precaution is merited in areas with less police presence. 

Specifically, there have been several notable criminal events in the Chambacu neighborhood, the East of Centro Comercial Caribe Plaza, and Southern Cartagena.

Local media reported on November 18 the port city of Cartagena is preparing to receive more than 20 cruise ships in December 2021 and an estimated 25,000 tourists.

Cartagena’s police chief Nicolás Zapata reiterated that Cartagena is “safe to visit” and proven by the fact that five international flights arrive every day, representing a daily influx of 780 travelers.

The U.S. Embassy recommends U.S. citizens remain aware of their surroundings and that drivers stay on main roads while driving through these areas. Side streets can be narrow or often blocked by parked vehicles, even though a GPS may show the road passable.

And the Embassy suggests visitors enroll in Smart Traveler Program to receive security updates.

Additionally, the U.S. Embassy confirmed beginning November 16, 2021, anyone 18 years or older would be required to show proof of having received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine to enter large-scale events and certain business establishments throughout Colombia.

And beginning November 30, 2021, children 12 years and older will be subject to the exact requirements.

The U.S. CDC has issued various travel vaccine recommendations such as dengue, in addition to COVID-19 when visiting Columbia.

Nov 18, 2021 • 8:19 pm CST

The Washington DC-based Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced it expects airport security checkpoints nationwide will be busy from Friday, November 19, through Sunday, November 28, 2021.

However, the TSA says it is prepared to screen about 20 million passengers during the Thanksgiving holiday.

The highest travel day in TSA's history was the Sunday after Thanksgiving of 2019, when nearly 2.9 million individuals were screened at TSA security checkpoints nationwide. 

Typically, the busiest days during the Thanksgiving travel period are Tuesday and Wednesday before Thanksgiving and Sunday afterward. 

"We anticipate that travel may be very close to pre-pandemic levels this holiday, and we are staffed and prepared for the holiday travelers. We have deployed technologies that enhance detection capabilities and reduce physical contact. However, it's equally important that passengers are prepared with travel tips for the most efficient checkpoint experience," said TSA Administrator David Pekoske in a press statement issued on November 17, 2021.

"With greater confidence in healthy travel, there will be more people traveling, so plan, remain vigilant, and practice kindness."

The best way to ensure a smooth trip through the security screening process is to arrive early and be prepared.

"I recommend that travelers pay attention to the guidance that the TSA officers are providing at the checkpoint," Pekoske added.

"They may be directing you to a shorter line or guiding you around someone who is moving slowly."

"And they may be giving you some advice that will lessen the likelihood that you'll need a pat-down."

Travelers can get assistance in real-time by submitting their questions and comments to @AskTSA on Twitter or Facebook Messenger.

Travelers can also reach the TSA Contact Center at 866-289-9673. Staff is available from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekends/holidays, and an automated service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Depending on your destination, COVID-19 vaccination may be required, as well as travel vaccines, such as yellow fever.

Visit the U.S. CDC travel directory to learn which vaccines are required.

Nov 17, 2021 • 8:35 am CST

Texas-based American Airlines confirmed on November 8, 2021, it is welcoming back travelers from around the world with its robust international schedule of flights to and from the United States.

According to NBC News, American Airlines has seen a nearly 10% increase in its VeriFLY app usage for travel since the U.S. entry restrictions were minimalized, said spokeswoman Rachel Warner.

Various travel industry experts credited this rise to the new flood of international travelers.

To meet the expected consumer demand, American Airlines will have more than 150 international inbound flights arriving in the U.S., including nearly 20 transatlantic flights.

And, for customers seeking a warm winter getaway, Brazil tops the list.

American and its airline partners deliver more flights to Brazil than any alliance to meet the growing demand.

"This Thanksgiving, travel will look a lot different than last year," said Paula Twidale, SVP, AAA Travel, in a press statement.

"Now that the borders are open and new health and safety guidelines are in place, travel is once again high on the list for Americans who are ready to reunite with their loved ones for a holiday."

However, the TSA's latest security screening data indicates the travel recovery has yet to materialize in the U.S.

The November 2021 trends indicate a significant recovery from 2020 but remain about 20% below pre-COVID-19 pandemic volumes.

The U.S. CDC recently released its recommendations for holiday-related travel.

As of November 8th, all non-U.S. citizens and non-U.S. immigrants must be 'fully vaccinated' against COVID-19 before traveling to the U.S. These travelers must show proof of COVID-19 vaccination and a negative test no more than three days prior to the flight's departure.

According to CDC requirements, all air passengers two years of age or older traveling internationally, regardless of vaccination status, must provide a negative test to the airline before boarding the flight.

The CDC recommendations include Routine and Travel vaccines, depending on each trip's destination.

Learn more about what's happening in American by visiting news.aa.com.

Note: The term fully vaccinated is defined by each country and could include four COVID-19 vaccinations for specific travelers.

Nov 17, 2021 • 7:57 am CST

The Maryland Department of Health MDH), in collaboration with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), confirmed a single case of monkeypox virus infection in a Maryland resident on November 17, 2021.

This individual recently returned from Nigeria.

The traveler is currently recovering in isolation and is not hospitalized.

Furthermore, the MDH says 'no special precautions are recommended at this time for the general public.'

However, everyone identified as having been potentially exposed to this case will be monitored for symptoms of monkeypox for 21 days after exposure. 

"Public health authorities have identified and continue to follow up with those who may have been in contact with the diagnosed individual, "said MDH Deputy Secretary for Public Health Dr. Jinlene Chan in a press release.

Monkeypox is in the same family of viruses as smallpox but generally causes a milder infection.

It can be spread between people through direct contact with skin lesions, body fluids, or contaminated materials such as clothing or linens. It can also be spread through large respiratory droplets, which generally cannot travel more than a few feet, requiring prolonged face-to-face contact. Most infections last 2-4 weeks.

Human monkeypox infections primarily occur in central and western African countries and have rarely been documented outside Africa. 

The U.K. and other countries have reported similar travel-related monkeypox cases.

Travelers returning from central or western Africa are advised to notify their health care provider if they develop symptoms of monkeypox, particularly flu-like illness, swollen lymph nodes, or rash. In addition, clinicians are urged to maintain a high index of suspicion for clinically compatible conditions. 

From a prevention perspective, the JYNNEOS (IMVANEX, IMVAMUNE) vaccine was Approved in 2019 by the U.S. FDA and remains the only FDA-approved monkeypox vaccine for non-military use.

JYNNEOS is known as IMVANEX or IMVAMUNE in various countries.