Travel Vaccine Breaking News

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

Oct 14, 2021 • 7:00 pm CDT

A recent update published by the World Health Organization (WHO) on October 13, 2021, indicates the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela's yellow fever concerns have not ended.

Yellow fever infects humans and non-human primates (NHP) and can spread rapidly and cause serious public health impacts in unimmunized populations.

A yellow fever outbreak near the city of Maturin in Monagas state in northeastern Venezuela has resulted in seven yellow fever cases, the WHO reported.

As of October 1, 2021, no yellow fever disease-related deaths have been reported.

The initial case is in a young pregnant woman who was vaccinated, but the other six were unvaccinated.

Vaccination is the most important means of preventing the infection as the disease is preventable with a single dose of yellow fever vaccine, which provides immunity for life.

Safe and effective U.S. FDA Approved yellow fever vaccines have been available for more than 80 years. 

As of October 14, 2021, the YF-VAX vaccine was available in the USA. And the Stamaril vaccine remains available internationally.

Furthermore, since early August 2021, Venezuela has detected ten yellow fever outbreaks involving NHP, such as monkeys, known as epizootic cases.

The confirmed epizootics were identified at 35 km and 150 km from the urban area of Maturín.

The increased number of human cases and epizootics since August 2021 is concerning due to the persistence of high viral circulation, says the WHO.

Previously, the U.S. CDC had issued various high-level Travel Advisory for Venezuela, including for COVID-19.

Oct 14, 2021 • 11:41 am CDT

The U.S. Transportation Services Administration (TSA) confirmed air traveler screening at US-based airports had experienced ups and downs.

The TSA announced in a press release that its officers detected a record number of firearms at airport security checkpoints, establishing a 20-year record with three months remaining in 2021.

By October 3rd of this year, TSA officers had stopped 4,495 airline passengers from carrying firearms onto their flights.

TSA officers discovered 11 firearms in carry-on bags at airport checkpoints per million passengers screened so far in 2021. This activity compared to 5 firearms per million passengers in 2019.

The 2021 total surpasses the previous record of 4,432 firearms caught at checkpoints in the entire calendar year 2019.

The mission of the U.S. TSA is to 'Protect the nation's transportation systems to ensure freedom of movement for people and commerce.'

Oct 13, 2021 • 8:58 pm CDT

With historical data spanning the past 16 years, the Henley Passport Index is based on exclusive data from the International Air Transport Authority. The Index includes 199 different passports and 227 different travel destinations.

Updated quarterly, the Henley Passport Index is considered the standard reference tool for global citizens and sovereign states when assessing where a passport ranks on the worldwide mobility spectrum.

Released on October 5, 2021, the Q4 2021 Index ranks Japan, Singapore, Germany, and South Korea the highest.

Discover where your passport lies on the global mobility spectrum by comparing it with the other 198 passports and 226 destinations included on the Henley Passport Index.

The USA is ranked #7 for 2021.

On October 8, 2021, the U.S. Department of State issued a Passport Operations Update in Response to COVID-19. 

You can find Frequently Asked Questions about U.S. passport operations by expanding the gray boxes linked here.

Furthermore, the State Department publishes various Travel Advisories for most countries. Note that conditions can change rapidly in a country at any time. To receive updated Travel Advisories and Alerts, choose the method that works best for you at travel.state.gov/stayingconnected.

Oct 13, 2021 • 5:48 pm CDT

The World Health Organization (WHO) announced Ebola vaccinations began today in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) North Kivu Province, where one Ebola case was confirmed on October 8, 2021.

This case lived in the same community where three members of the same family died in September 2021 after experiencing Ebola-like symptoms.

People at high risk, including contacts of the confirmed case and first responders, will receive vaccine doses as the health authorities move to curb the spread of the Ebola Zaire virus.

Already, more than 170 contacts have been identified, and teams are monitoring their health.

Vaccinators are using the "ring vaccination" approach, where contacts and contacts of contacts are vaccinated. 

The WHO confirmed about 1,000 doses of the rVSV-ZEBOV Ebola vaccine and other medical supplies were delivered from the capital Kinshasa to Goma city in North Kivu.

About 200 doses were sent to Beni city near the Butsili health area, where the confirmed case was detected. 

Furthermore, the DRC has more than 12,000 vaccine doses in Kinshasa that can be deployed if necessary.

"Ebola is a virulent, lethal virus that can spread aggressively and fast. But vaccines can create a firewall of protection around cases, stopping the chain of transmission, warning a potentially large outbreak and saving many lives," stated Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, in a press release.

In addition, the WHO is in the process of shipping five tons worth of response supplies, including therapeutics, personal protective equipment, and laboratory materials, to the DRC.

Beni was one of the epicenters of the 2018–2020 Ebola outbreak in the eastern DRC and is about 50 km from Butembo City, which experienced an Ebola outbreak earlier in 2021. 

Sporadic cases can occur following a major outbreak, but further genomic sequencing is needed to determine if this latest case is linked to the previous outbreaks, says the WHO.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo's National Institute of Biomedical Research's central laboratory in Kinshasa is currently testing samples of the confirmed case to identify the strain, and results are expected this week.

rVSV-ZEBOV is a recombinant, replication-competent Ebola vaccine produced by Merck and called Ervebo.

The vaccine's active ingredient is a live Vesicular Stomatitis Virus, in which its surface protein has been replaced with that of Zaire ebola virus disease. Inactive ingredients include recombinant human serum albumin, tromethamine buffer. In addition, this vaccine contains a trace amount of rice protein.

Ervebo is the first Ebola vaccine currently licensed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to prevent Ebola virus disease (EVD). 

The U.S. CDC has recently issued high-level Travel Advisories for the DRC focused on polio, meningitis, monkeypox, and COVID-19.

Oct 11, 2021 • 5:11 pm CDT

The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah stated in a press release issued on October 9, 2021, that based on the keenness of the government of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques on the health of Umrah performers, worshippers, and visitors of the Grand Holy Mosque and the Prophet's Holy Mosque and per the effective health instructions of the Health Ministry regarding the implementation of preventive protocols to prevent infection with the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, it was decided that starting October 10, 2021, the issuance of permits to perform Umrah and prayers in the Grand Mosque and to visit the Prophet's Mosque will be exclusive to only COVID-19 vaccinated people.

Permits will be issued to those who have received two doses of the KSA's approved COVID-19 vaccine and the cases excluded from taking the vaccine as indicated in the Tawakalna app.

Tawakkalna helps individuals, security, health, and private entities, that are exempted from the curfew to automatize all transactions between relevant parties in order to mitigate the health, economic and social impacts that may result from the implementation of policies taken to eliminate the spread of Covid-19.

The Ministry added that Umrah performers who have completed the reservation and issuance of a permit to perform Umrah, prayer, or visitation and yet to take the two vaccination doses must ensure taking the second dose 48 hours before the permit date avoid cancellation.

Furthermore, appointments to take and complete the COVID-19 vaccine doses at the vaccination centers throughout the Kingdom are open to all.

The US Department of State says Saudi Arabia is currently administering the Pfizer-BioNTech (Comirnaty) or the Oxford-AstraZeneca (Vaxzevria) COVID vaccine for free to all citizens and residents in the Kingdom. For more information, visit the Ministry of Health's COVID-19 vaccine website.

The Ministry indicated that all precautionary and preventive measures related to the pandemic are subject to continuous evaluation by the Public Health Authority (Weqaya) and as per the developments of the pandemic updates.

In addition to COVID-19 vaccinations, the Ministry of Health has established several vaccine requirements that visitors must meet to obtain an Entry Visa for Hajj and Umrah in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for Hajj season 1434 H. 

Oct 9, 2021 • 6:31 am CDT

The Ministry of Health of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) announced on October 8, 2021, that a new case of Ebola had been detected in North Kivu Province. Unfortunately, the child died on October 6th.

This area is where a previous Ebola outbreak was declared 'over' on May 3, 2021, and is a commercial hub with links to the neighboring countries of Uganda and Rwanda.

And was one of the epicenters of the 2018–2020 Ebola outbreak in the eastern DRC. The DRC's 10th Ebola outbreak ended with 3,481 cases, 2,299 deaths, and 1,162 survivors.

The country's 12th Ebola outbreak occurred in the Butembo area, and after three months, there were 11 confirmed cases, one probable case, and six deaths.

There are Ebola vaccines and therapies available in the DRC.

Recently, the DRC declared a meningitis outbreak in the Tshopo Province of north-eastern DRC.

The U.S. CDC recommends that travelers two months or older traveling to the north-eastern DRC get vaccinated against meningitis.

Oct 5, 2021 • 5:22 pm CDT

Olympic athletes inoculated with Russian-made COVID-19 vaccines will be allowed to participate in the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in China, the Beijing Organizing Committee for the 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games revealed to TASS on October 4, 2021.

"Regarding the vaccines, please note that all vaccines recognized by World Health Organization or related international organizations, or approved officially by the countries or regions concerned will be accepted. Therefore, Russia's vaccines are well accepted," the Winter Olympic organizers stated to TASS.

Russia has registered five COVID-19 vaccines: Sputnik V, Sputnik Light, EpiVacCorona, EpiVacCorona-N, and CoviVac.

On February 4, 2022, the Olympic cauldron will be ignited, signaling the start of the Beijing Winter Olympics. And the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Games will begin on March 4, 2022

The events of the Games will take place in a combination of brand new structures and existing venues.

The venues for the Winter Games in 2022 have been divided into three zones or clusters: Beijing, Yanqing, and Zhangjiakou. 

The Beijing cluster will primarily stage the ice sports of the Winter Olympics and the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the Games.

Following the 2022 Games, the multi-purpose venue will continue to be used for both winter and summer sports, switching between the two depending on the season.

Furthermore, the new Olympic mascot Bing Dwen Dwen will serve as an ambassador for winter sports, bringing joy to those who participate in and watch the Olympic Winter Games.

"Bing" means ice and also symbolizes purity and strength, and "Dwen Dwen" represents children. The mascot embodies the strength and willpower of athletes and will help to promote the Olympic spirit.

The design for Bing Dwen Dwen was chosen from over 5,800 submissions from China and 35 countries around the world as part of a global competition arranged by the Beijing 2022 Organising Committee. 

Oct 4, 2021 • 8:16 pm CDT

The World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed yellow fever cases across several states in Nigeria. From January to August 31, 2021, a total of 1,312 suspected cases were reported across 36 States and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

A total of 45 blood samples were sent to the Institut Pasteur in Dakar (IPD), and 31 samples tested positive by the Plaque reduction neutralization test (PRNT).

Of these 31 PRNT positive cases, twelve cases had a history of yellow fever vaccination.

Two deaths were reported among the remaining 19 non-vaccinated PRNT positive cases (Case fatality ratio: 11%).

And the investigations into the remaining PRNT-positive cases are ongoing.

According to WHO-UNICEF 2020 estimates, the national immunization coverage for yellow fever was 54% in 2020, which is below the threshold of 80% necessary to protect against outbreaks.

In addition, yellow fever surveillance is sub-optimal.

Not all suspected cases are documented, presumptive positive cases are not always investigated, and investigations of confirmed cases and confirmatory testing results are delayed. Additionally, vaccination status, which is critical for interpretation of laboratory results and case confirmation, may not be reported as part of the investigation.

Accelerated phased vaccination campaigns are planned to cover the entire country by 2024.

Furthermore, the WHO recommends vaccination against yellow fever for all international travelers from 9 months of age going to Nigeria. Nigeria requires a yellow fever vaccination certificate for most travelers as a condition of entry.

Yellow fever vaccines recommended by WHO are safe, highly effective, and provide life-long protection against infection. However, a booster dose of an approved yellow fever vaccine cannot be required of international travelers as a condition of entry, says the WHO.

Previously, the U.S. CDC issued a Level 2 Travel Advisory regarding Nigeria's yellow fever outbreak. The CDC said on September 30, 2021, 'travelers to Nigeria should take steps to prevent yellow fever by getting vaccinated at least ten days before travel and taking steps to prevent mosquito bites.'

Oct 4, 2021 • 2:25 pm CDT

Saudi Arabia-based MyHotels announced it had received final approval on September 30, 2021, from the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah in Saudi Arabia to serve as an official Umrah Online Travel Agency.

MyHotels is a Saudi online travel agency using an integrated multi-service platform providing a wide variety of services, including accommodations, transportation; individualized package tours; vacation providers, and Umrah Services.

Emad Alabbas, CEO of MyHotels, stated in a related press release, "We have invested a lot and still investing in developing the infrastructure of the MyHotels® to deliver the fastest Umrah platform possible.

"We expanded our partnership in Umrah hotels reservations and the transportation reservation sectors and offering these discounts directly to our partners via our platform."

"This will be allowing our partners to avoid the stress of commissions targets and incentives policies, letting our partners focusing on their core business."

MyHotels® Umrah Packages include, but are not limited to the following:

  • B2C Umrah: Issues an immediate electronic Umrah e-Visa for individuals allows them to enter Saudi Arabia. The package includes hotels in Makkah City and/or Madinah City, transportation, and ground services, including medical insurance from Saudi Umrah Operators.
  • B2B Umrah: Provides Umrah booking services to the Saudi Umrah Operators and their external agents by enabling them to book Makkah and Madinah hotels/accommodations, transportation/transfers, and instantly generate a BRN ID they can issue Umrah Visas for groups via access with Umrah Systems Services Center.

B2B and B2C customers can learn more about Umrah travel packages by visiting: MyHotels® Umrah. Founded in Saudi Arabia in January 2016, it is headquartered in Makkah.

Additional Approved Umrah Travel Agents are listed on this webpage.

The Government of Saudi Arabia approved certain vaccines for Hajj season 1434 H, including COVID-19, when visiting The Kingdom. Other travel-related vaccines are listed here.

Oct 3, 2021 • 12:40 pm CDT

Qatar's Ministry of Public Health (MOPH) announced a set of updates to its COVID-19 Travel and Return Policy today, which will come into effect on October 6, 2021.

The purpose of these changes is to ease the process of travel and return to the State of Qatar in light of the noticeable decrease in COVID-19 positive cases in recent times, with total commitment to prevention measures.

The Ministry of Public Health stated that the Travel and Return Policy had been a critical measure in the country's strategy against COVID-19. Enforcing a strict policy has played a significant role in maintaining Qatar's consistently low rates of COVID-19 infection.

Below is an overview of the key changes that will be implemented with effect on Wednesday:

  • Replacing the current classification of countries with two lists, Green and Red, and a secondary list of Exceptional Red Countries based on international and local health risk indicators and the epidemiology of COVID-19 in the different countries.
  • Travelers are required to sign an Undertaking and Acknowledgment Form before arrival to Qatar. The form is available on the MoPH website, the online registration platform (Ehteraz website), and the airlines' ticketing process. Fully vaccinated citizens and residents traveling from Green List countries are exempt from this procedure.
  • The pre-travel PCR test is no longer mandatory for fully vaccinated Qatari citizens and residents traveling from Green List countries; instead, they will be required to do the PCR test within 36 hours of arrival.
  • The conditionally approved vaccine list has been updated to include Sinovac and Sputnik (V) COVID-19 vaccines.
  • Visitors are now able to activate the Ehteraz mobile application using an international SIM card.
  • Non-residents of Qatar must register via an online registration platform (www.ehteraz.gov.qa​) at least three days before arrival.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Qatar welcomed over 2 million visitors in 2019, representing an increase of 17% compared to the same period in 2018. In addition, visitation from nationals of all regions of the world grew significantly, reported QatarTourism.

The most prestigious soccer tournament in the world, the FIFA Men's World Cup™, sees 32 nations compete against each other beginning in November 2022. Continental qualification pathways leading to an exciting finals event bring fans together around the passion and love for the game.

The U.S. Department of State recently issued a Level 3 Travel Advisory saying 'reconsider travel to Qatar due to COVID-19.'

Due to risks to civil aviation operating within the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman region, including Qatar, the Federal Aviation Administration has issued an advisory Notice to Airmen and/or a Special Federal Aviation Regulation. In addition, U.S. citizens should consult the Federal Aviation Administration's Prohibitions, Restrictions, and Notices for more information.

Read the Department of State's webpage before you plan any international travel.   

Oct 2, 2021 • 10:39 am CDT

The European Union (EU) confirmed it had removed six countries from its list of safe travel destinations, meaning visitors or people returning from those countries are likely to face tighter controls such as COVID-19 tests or quarantine.

The EU’s 27 member states agreed to drop Japan, Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Brunei, and Serbia following a review.

According to Japan Times reporting, during September 2021, Japan was removed from the EU exemption list in January 2021, before being added again in June, as the EU eased restrictions ahead of vacation season.

Every Thursday, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control publishes a COVID-19 travel risk map. This map uses color codes - green, orange, red and dark red - representing the COVID-19 risk levels.

Oct 1, 2021 • 2:58 pm CDT

Australia's Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) confirmed it had assessed the protection offered by certain COVID-19 vaccines. In this initial report, the TGA assessed six vaccines that have been widely deployed in countries Australia normally receives international arrivals.

The TGA's initial advice is that CoronaVac and CoviShield vaccines be considered 'recognized vaccines' for incoming international travelers to be regarded as appropriately vaccinated.

"Recognition" status does not constitute Australian regulatory approval, as regulatory approval would enable a company to provide that vaccine for administration within Australia.

Four COVID-19 vaccines have been granted provisional approval in Australia: Comirnaty, Vaxzevria, Spikevax, and COVID-19 Vaccine Janssen are also recognized for incoming travelers.

At this point, the TGA has received insufficient data to conclude as to the protection offered by BIBP-CorV (Sinopharm), Covaxin (Bharat Biotech), Sputnik V (Gamaleya Institute), and Convidecia (CanSino).

These vaccines could be recognized in the coming weeks or months as more data becomes available.

'Our decisions around recognition will therefore be updated at regular intervals,' says the TGA.

Separately, the U.S. State Department and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have issued Level 3 Travel Advisory for Australia due to the COVID-19 pandemic situation.

The U.S. Consulate General has received reports of a large protest currently taking place in Australia.

The protest is reportedly in opposition to the mandatory vaccination requirements and the construction industry shutdown. Previous demonstrations occasionally turned violent, resulting in injuries and police action.

The U.S. Consulate General in Melbourne is currently closed for routine in-person consular services. U.S. citizens who need critical emergency services should contact [email protected] or call (03) 9526-5900.

And, Services provided by the U.S. Consulate General in Sydney continue to be disrupted by the ongoing lockdown orders in NSW.  In compliance with current guidelines, the U.S. Consulate General Sydney is providing only emergency services to U.S. citizens at this time.  Routine services, including U.S. passport, Consular Report of Birth Abroad, notary, and visa services, are affected. Additionally, the U.S. Consulate General Sydney is relocating to a new facility shortly, affecting our ability to provide services.

Oct 1, 2021 • 11:26 am CDT

The European Centers for Disease Control (ECDC) published color-code maps based on data reported by the EU Member States every Tuesday.

These maps support the Council Recommendation on a coordinated approach to the restriction of free movement in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which the EU Member States adopted in October 2020.

Areas are marked and classified according to the criteria in the latest amendment of the Council Recommendation, as of October 1, 2021.

Sep 30, 2021 • 2:22 pm CDT

Italian authorities announced on September 23, 2021, all versions of the AstraZeneca vaccine are considered equivalent to the other vaccines that have already been approved for use by the country’s authorities, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.

The Vaxzevria - AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is made from ChAdOx1, a weakened version of a common cold virus (adenovirus). 

There are three sub-versions of the AstraZeneca vaccine:

  • Covishield (Serum Institute of India)
  • R-CoVI (R-Pharm)
  • Covid-19 vaccine-recombinant (Fiocruz)

“The certificates issued by health authorities in Canada, Japan, Israel, the United Kingdom and the United States of America, as well as those issued by foreign health authorities following vaccination with EMA-authorised vaccines or with Covishield (Serum Institute of India), R-CoVI (R-Pharm), and Covid-19vaccine-recombinant (Fiocruz) vaccines, are recognized as equivalent to national and EU digital green certificates,” the statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation reads.

The Italian Green Pass is an extension of the EU Digital COVID-19 Certificate, meaning that Italy recognizes all other equivalents that other countries have issued, regardless if they are part of the European Union or not.

Sep 28, 2021 • 3:29 pm CDT

The World Rabies Day (WRD), established by the Global Alliance for Rabies Control (GARC) and recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO), is celebrated every September 28th to remind that preventing animal rabies does protect not only animal health but also the health of humans and the environment.

On September 28, 1895, the French scientist Louis Pasteur who created the rabies vaccine, passed away.

In this regard, the theme chosen for the WRD 2021 is "Rabies: facts, not fear."

This theme highlights the importance of raising awareness of the disease, vaccinating the animal population, and educating people on the danger of rabies and how to prevent it.

The Pan American Center for Foot-and-Mouth Disease and Veterinary Public Health of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) is responsible for the "Regional Program for the Elimination of Human Rabies Transmitted by Dogs" from 1983.

Since then, the incidence of the disease in the Americas has been reduced by around 98%.

From the past years, nearly all human cases have been mainly transmitted by wild animals, particularly hematophagous bats.

To achieve rabies elimination in the American continent, the countries' commitment and long-term national programs for rabies control are necessary. 

Mr. Ottorino Cosivi, director of PANAFTOSA, stated in a press release, "The results attained in the past 38 years allow us to state that we are very close to attaining the elimination of dog-mediated human rabies (variants 1 and 2) in the American continent."

Due to its fatal nature and the lack of a cure, rabies is a public health risk.

At the international level, 60,000 people die every year from this disease, mainly in Asia and Africa.

Rabies vaccines can be used to prevent rabies before and for a period of time after exposure to the rabies virus, says the U.S. CDC.

Unlike the conventional, inactivated rabies vaccine, live-attenuated viruses are genetically modified viruses that can replicate in an inoculated recipient without causing adverse effects while still eliciting robust and effective immune responses against rabies virus infection.

Note: Beginning July 14, 2021, a temporary suspension was launched for dogs imported from high-risk countries for dog rabies. The CDC has the authority to issue a CDC Dog Import Permit for U.S. citizens and lawful residents relocating from high-risk countries to bring their dogs into the United States. After October 14, 2021, dogs coming from high-risk countries with CDC Dog Import Permits must enter only at approved ports of entry.