Travel Vaccine Breaking News

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

Jan 17, 2022 • 1:14 pm CST

As long as the COVID-19 pandemic remains a global health threat, the Galveston Wharves and its partners in Texas will continually update plans to maintain safe, sustainable cruising.

On January 7, 2022, Galveston Wharves port director and CEO Rodger Rees issued a statement saying, 'The number of COVID cases on the cruise ships sailing from Galveston remains well below what we are seeing in the public.'

'This is due to the strict vaccine and testing requirements, as well as the many other safety protocols practiced daily in the terminals and onboard the vessels.'

'Since cruises resumed from Galveston in July 2021, we have not seen any issues that these plans cannot address.'

'I am incredibly proud of our port staff for their efforts.'

'This industry is vital for our port and our community.'

In 2019 cruise lines sailing from Galveston attracted more than 1 million passengers, generated 26,900 jobs, and totaled $1.6 billion in cruise industry direct expenditures statewide.

The Galveston Wharves organized the response team's first COVID-related planning meeting in March 2020, just two months after the CDC announced the first case in the U.S.

As the fourth most popular U.S. cruise port and only homeport in Texas, Galveston Wharves has been a thriving maritime commercial center since 1825.

Note: The U.S. CDC expired the Temporary Extension & Modification of Framework for Conditional Sailing Order on January 15, 2022.

Jan 17, 2022 • 11:24 am CST

According to the WHO Regional Office for Africa, African countries that have performed the best in vaccinating their populations against COVID-19 had finalized their national vaccine deployment plans before the first COVID-19 vaccines had arrived.

In a commentary published in the journal Nature on January 3, 2022, John N Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, called for African countries to increase investment in health and ultimately reconfigure their public health approach towards one of self-reliance.

One exception is the developers of Corbevax, a recombinant protein vaccine shown in unpublished phase 3 trials to be highly efficacious against symptomatic infection with the ancestral SARS-CoV-2 strain and the delta variant.

The vaccine was developed as a prototype with no patent by researchers in Houston, Texas, with the technology then transferred without payment to vaccine manufacturers in several countries, including Botswana.

Notably, the vaccine is based on the same low-cost technology as the hepatitis B vaccine that has been in use for 40 years.

This approach will provide gains not only for COVID-19 control but also for other endemic infectious diseases, such as yellow fever, polio, malaria, measles, and monkeypox.

The U.S. CDC publishes various Travel Advisories for disease outbreaks in Africa. A list of destinations is found on this CDC webpage.

Jan 17, 2022 • 3:29 am CST

Australia's Therapeutic Good Administration (TGA) determined today that the Sputnik V vaccine would be 'recognized' to establish a traveler's vaccination status.

The recognition of Sputnik will expand options for the return of international students, travel of skilled and unskilled workers to Australia, and business people.

However, the TGA does not recognize the single-dose Sputnik Light vaccine as of January 17, 2022.

Last week the TGA obtained additional information indicating that two doses of the Sputnik V (Gamaleya Institute) showed an average efficacy against symptomatic infection of 89% and against hospitalization or death of 98-100%.

As for most studies, they were conducted before the emergence of the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant.

Real-world studies assessing the effectiveness of a range of vaccines against Omicron are currently underway in many countries.

Recognition of the two-dose Sputnik vaccine by the TGA follows recognition in late 2021 by the TGA of the BBIBP-CorV (Sinopharm) and Coronavac (Sinovac) vaccines and two major Indian-manufactured vaccines - Covaxin (Bharat Biotech) and Covishield (Serum Institute of India /AstraZeneca).

Further information on requirements for incoming travel to Australia can be found at Vaccinated travelers.

Jan 16, 2022 • 11:02 am CST

According to a new video published by the U.S Transportation Security Administration (TSA) on January 4, 2022, from bear spray to meth-rritos, officers found some genuinely unusual items attempting to pass through airport screening.

TSA's Top 10 Catches of 2021 can be viewed at this YouTube link.

David P. Pekoske, the Administrator of the TSA, is responsible for a workforce of approximately 60,000 employees charged with protecting U.S. transportation systems and the traveling public. 

The Aviation and Transportation Security Act was signed on November 19, 2001, establishing the TSA.

Jan 16, 2022 • 10:38 am CST

Are you traveling with cancer and have questions about the airport checkpoint screening process? The U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) published an insightful video on what to expect during your next flight.

This TSA Cares video demonstration provides an overview of what you can expect at the checkpoint and does not reflect the screening process in real-time.

TSA Cares is a helpline that provides travelers with disabilities, medical conditions, and other special circumstances additional assistance during the security screening process.

Call the TSA three days before departure at (855) 787-2227 on weekdays, 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. ET and on weekends/holidays, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET.

However, screening protocols may vary based on technology available at the local airport checkpoint and intelligence-driven factors.

The Aviation and Transportation Security Act established TSA, passed by the 107th Congress and signed on November 19, 2001.

"I can't believe it's been 20 years," commented Robert Nunnery, a Customer Care Manager at Dallas-Ft. Worth International Airport, who has been with TSA since 2002.

"We have more face-to-face contact with the public than anyone else in government."

"So I like seeing how we're still building and changing, and I am excited to see what's next."

"There's still work to be done as the world around us continues to grow, evolve and advance, but there's so much to look back on and take pride in."

"We've federalized over 440 airports, streamlining airport transportation security."

"We built TSA PreCheck, ensuring a smoother screening process and expedited security lines."

"And as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, we implemented changes at our checkpoints to further protect travelers from possible health risks."

Jan 16, 2022 • 9:17 am CST

The U.S. Department of State issued a Level 4 Travel Advisory on January 10, 2022, that says 'Do not travel to Jamaica due to COVID-19 related conditions.'

To fully inform travelers, the U.S. CDC recently issued a Level 2 Travel Health Notice for Jamaica due to COVID-19, indicating a moderate level of COVID-19 in the country. 

In addition, the new State Department advisory says 'exercise increase caution in Jamaica due to crime. Some areas have increased risk. U.S. government personnel are prohibited from traveling to locations listed below, using public buses, and driving outside of prescribed Kingston regions at night.

Do not travel to areas in Kingston, Montego Bay, and Spanish Town due to crime.

Violent crimes are common, such as home invasions, armed robberies, and homicides. Sexual assaults frequently occur, including at all-inclusive resorts, says the State Department.

Furthermore, local police lack the resources to respond effectively to serious criminal incidents.

As a result, emergency services vary throughout the island, and response times may differ from U.S. standards.

U.S. citizens who travel abroad should always have a contingency plan for emergencies and enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program to receive Alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.

The U.S. Embassy Kingston is located at 142 Old Hope Road, Jamaica, West Indies.

Note, as of January 10, 2022, all air passengers two years or older with a flight departing from a foreign country to the U.S. are required to show a negative COVID-19 viral test result taken no more than one day before travel or documentation of having recovered from COVID-19 in the past 90 days, before they board their flight. 

Jan 15, 2022 • 1:32 pm CST

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed the Temporary Extension & Modification of Framework for Conditional Sailing Order (CSO) expires today, January 15, 2022.

However, cruise lines are encouraged to follow the CDC's COVID-19 public health measures.

The CDC has issued an Order requiring face masks to be worn by all travelers while on public transportation, including all passengers on board and personnel operating maritime conveyances traveling into, within, or out of the U.S.

But, travelers are not required to wear a mask in outdoor areas of a conveyance. 

Previously, on December 30, 2021, the COVID-19 Travel Health Notice level was updated from Level 3 to Level 4, the highest level. This change reflects increases in cruise ship COVID-19 cases since identifying the Omicron SARS-CoV-2 virus variant.

For more information on this mask requirement, see the CDC's Frequently Asked Questions.

Jan 15, 2022 • 8:20 am CST

TASS reported on January 14, 2022, Israel has canceled the 3-day quarantine and follow-up PCR test for tourists vaccinated with the Sputnik V vaccine.

And Israel has begun to consider Russian-issued certificates of using the single-dose Sputnik Light as a booster jab, the Russian embassy to Israel confirmed.

"A three-day mandatory quarantine and a follow-up PCR testing have been canceled."

"Thus, the period of obligatory self-isolation for tourists vaccinated with Sputnik V will be over upon the receipt of positive serological and negative PCR tests taken upon arrival at the airport and cannot exceed 24 hours," it said.

Israel initially accepted Sputnik V vaccinated travelers in October 2021.

Currently, the Sputnik V vaccine has been deployed in over 70 countries and the Sputnik Light vaccine in twenty-six countries.

In 2021, about 100 million Sputnik V and Sputnik Light vaccines were distributed to various countries.

As of January 15, 2022, the U.S. government had not recognized either Sputnik vaccine.

Jan 14, 2022 • 3:52 pm CST

The U.S. Department of State confirmed that the consular applications and systems will undergo scheduled maintenance on January 15, 2022, from 6:00 PM until 11:00 PM (EST). 

This means users may experience service interruption during this time frame.  If you cannot access an application/system, please try again after the maintenance is completed. 

As of January 10, 2022, you can find Frequently Asked Questions about U.S. passport operations by expanding the gray boxes on this webpage.

Furthermore, as a first step in planning an international trip, check the State Department Travel Advisories for your intended destination.

In addition, you can easily see the world at a glance on this color-coded map.

Separately, the U.S. CDC publishes its Travel Advisories on this webpage.

Jan 14, 2022 • 9:08 am CST

Canadian Ministers Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Omar Alghabra, and Marco Mendicino issued the following statement on January 13, 2022.

"...as of January 15, 2022, certain categories of travelers who are currently exempt from entry requirements will only be allowed to enter Canada if they are fully vaccinated with one of the vaccines approved for entry into Canada."

These groups include several essential service providers, including truck drivers.

A Canadian truck driver who is not fully vaccinated can't be denied entry into Canada.

However, starting January 15, unvaccinated Canadian truck drivers entering Canada will need to meet requirements for pre-entry, arrival, and Day 8 testing, as well as quarantine requirements.

The final decision regarding entry and quarantine is made by a government representative at the port of entry, based on the information presented to them at the time.

And as of January 15, unvaccinated or partially vaccinated foreign national truck drivers coming to Canada from the U.S. by land will be directed back to the United States.

To qualify as a fully vaccinated traveler and to enter Canada, foreign national truck drivers must:

  • have received at least two doses of a vaccine accepted for travel, a mix of two accepted vaccines,
  • or at least one dose of the Janssen/Johnson & Johnson vaccine,
  • have received their second dose at least 14 full days before entering Canada.

Furthermore, any symptomatic individual upon arrival to Canada will be directed to a Public Health Agency of Canada official and will be directed to isolate for ten days from the time symptoms first occurred.

"The Government of Canada's response to the COVID-19 pandemic will continue to prioritize the health and safety of Canadians. As vaccination levels, case counts, and hospitalization rates evolve, the Government of Canada will continue to consider further targeted measures at the borders—and when to lift or adjust them—to keep Canadians safe," stated these Canadian Ministers.

Previously, the U.S. CDC issued a Level 4 Advisory saying 'avoid traveling to Canada.'

Jan 13, 2022 • 4:16 pm CST

Hong Kong's Centre for Health Protection (CHP) announced today it is closely monitoring five human cases of avian influenza A(H5N6) in the China Mainland. Two men from different cities in Sichuan province died from their infections.

An earlier case in 2022 involved a 43-year-old woman living in Huizhou in Guangdong Province.

Since 2014, China has reported 63 human cases, but the country reported a sharp rise in cases (36) last year.

The virus has been detected in birds in four Asian countries, but China and Laos are the only ones that have reported human cases.

Whenever avian influenza viruses are circulating, there is a risk for sporadic infection and small clusters of human cases due to exposure to infected poultry or contaminated environments, says the U.S. CDC.

H5N6 infections are often severe or fatal.

Travelers to the Mainland or other affected areas must avoid visiting wet markets, live poultry markets, or farms.

They should also avoid purchasing live or freshly slaughtered poultry and avoid touching poultry/birds or their droppings. In addition, they should strictly observe personal and hand hygiene when visiting any place with live poultry.

And travelers returning from affected areas should consult a doctor promptly if symptoms develop and inform the doctor of their travel history for prompt diagnosis and treatment of potential diseases.

The annual flu shot does not protect people from avian influenza viruses, says the CDC.

Jan 13, 2022 • 9:47 am CST

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) published updated, color-code maps supporting the Council Recommendation on a coordinated approach to travel measures in the EU.

Areas are marked in the following colors: 

  • Red: if the 14-day cumulative COVID-19 case notification rate ranges from 75 to 200 and the test positivity rate of tests for COVID-19 infection is 4% or more, or if the 14-day cumulative COVID-19 case notification rate is more than 200 but less than 500.
  • Dark red: if the 14-day cumulative COVID-19 case notification rate is 500 or more
  • Grey: if there is insufficient information or if the testing rate is lower than 300 cases per 100 000.

The ECDC also published a data dashboard identifying SARS-CoV-2 variants of interest and concern in Europe.

As of January 13, 2022, the ECDC reported 69% of Europeans had been fully vaccinated against cOVID-19. 

Jan 11, 2022 • 2:23 pm CST

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a Level 4 Advisory: Very High Level of COVID-19 in Canada on January 10, 2022. The CDC says 'avoid traveling to Canada.'

And if you must travel to Canada, 'make sure you are fully vaccinated before travel.' However, because of the current situation in Canada, even fully vaccinated travelers may be at risk for getting and spreading COVID-19 variants.'

If you decide to travel to Canada, the U.S. Department of State suggests visiting the U.S. Embassy's webpage regarding COVID-19. Fully vaccinated foreign travelers can travel to the U.S. across the Northern border with Canada.

Separately, the Canadian government issued detailed data about the spread of the virus on January 11, 2022. Of the 13 Canadian jurisdictions reporting updates, no new deaths were reported in six provinces and territories in the past 24 hours.

The U.S. suggests enrolling in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program to receive Alerts and make it easier to locate American citizens in an emergency.

Land border restrictions for travel to the U.S. remain in effect through January 21, 2022, and maybe extended.  

If you are overseas and your U.S. passport expired on or after January 1, 2020, you may be able to use your expired U.S. passport to return directly to the United States until March 31, 2022. See this State Department webpage to determine if you qualify for this exception.

The U.S. Department of State updated its passport FAQs on January 10, 2022.

Jan 10, 2022 • 3:23 pm CST

The U.S. CDC issued a Level 1 Travel Advisory on January 4, 2022, confirming 'Dengue is an ongoing risk in many parts of Asia and the Pacific Islands.

And people visiting Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka should prevent mosquito bites by using an EPA-registered insect repellent, wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors, and sleeping in an air-conditioned room or room with window screens or under an insecticide-treated bed net.

Dengue is a disease caused by a virus spread through mosquito bites. The disease can take up to two weeks to develop, with illness generally lasting less than a week.

Health effects from Dengue include fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, rash, muscle and joint pain, and minor bleeding. And Dengue can become severe within a few hours. Severe Dengue is a medical emergency, usually requiring hospitalization.

Health effects can include bleeding, shock, organ failure, and death in severe cases.

Dengue vaccine information is posted on this Vax-Before-Travel webpage.

Dec 19, 2021 • 5:26 am CST

According to a new study, this flu season's egg-based influenza vaccines are less effective against a 'unique H3N2 clade virus.'

And the antibodies generated from the Northern Hemisphere flu vaccine poorly neutralized the new H3N2.

'While cases of 2a2 H3N2 infections are quickly rising in the U.S. and other parts of the world, it is possible that other clades may become predominant in 2022,' stated these researchers on December 16, 2021.

'Previous studies indicate flu shots consistently prevent hospitalizations and deaths even in years where there are large antigenic mismatches.'

Furthermore, 'flu shots could be crucial for reducing COVID-19 hospitalizations as H3N2 viruses co-circulate in 2022.'

The WHO announced on September 24, 2021, the composition of influenza virus vaccines for use in the 2022 southern hemisphere influenza season.

Additionally, the WHO reports current influenza trends at this link.