Eighteen months after the outbreak of Covid-19, the United States opened its borders on Monday to all international travelers as long as they are fully vaccinated.
This is good news to many Filipinos who were initially hesitant to get their jabs, thinking that they would not be allowed to travel to the US with non-US made vaccines such as China’s Sinovac or Sinopharm or UK’s AstraZeneca. However, those jabbed with Russia’s Gamaleya Sputnik V won’t be allowed entry into the US just yet.
The Philippine consulates in San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York have also advised Filipinos and Filipino-Americans that starting Monday US, theaters, dine-in restaurants, indoor businesses in their cities are also requiring proof of vaccination before they will be allowed entry into their premises.
The US had earlier closed its borders from specific countries like Brazil, China, India, Iran, South Africa, the United Kingdom and Europe’s Schengen areas to contain the spread of Covid-19. Land borders with Canada and Mexico were also closed.
Those travel restrictions have been lifted and instead limited the entry of travelers who have already got at least single-dose or double-dosed Covid-19 vaccines approved by the World Health Organization (WHO). Gone are the days for other Filipinos who are brand-hesitant and would travel to the US just to get their US-made jabs Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna or Janssen.
Since Gamaleya Sputnik V has not been approved by WHO, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has not allowed yet those who received the Russian vaccine to enter the US.
An estimated 650,000 Filipinos have received or will soon receive Gamaleya Sputnik V, based on published data that a total of 1.3 million doses have been delivered to the Philippines as of October 2021.
Flag-carrier Philippine Airlines, which flies 35 flights per week to and from the US cities and territories, welcomed this development.
“Passenger loads to and from the US are building up,” Cielo Villaluna, spokesman of PAL told the BusinessMirror.
She said the accepted proof of vaccination that PAL would accept from Filipino travelers who got their vaccines from the Philippines are yellow cards issued by the Bureau of Quarantine or certificate from Vax Cert Philippines. Children under 18 years of age would not be required to be fully vaccinated.
Filipino travelers who were vaccinated in other countries may show digital or paper vaccination certificate verifiable with QR code or a digital pass via Smartphone application with QR code.
If the proof of vaccination is a“non-verifiable” paper record, it has to be issued at the national or subnational level or by an authorized vaccine provider.
“Non-verifiable” digital record must be in the form of digital photos of vaccination card or downloaded vaccine record from official source like public health agency, government agency of the particular country where they got their jabs.
US citizens, immigrants and permanent residents in the US are no longer required to present proof of vaccination.
Filipino seafarers or airline crew who were not vaccinated and are only transiting the US to board the ship or another airline (under C1/D non-immigrant visa) will also not be required to be fully vaccinated.
The US CDC said diplomats or those on official government travel and persons with documented medical contraindications to receiving a Covid-19 vaccine, or who needs to travel for “humanitarian” or “emergency” reasons will also be exempted.
Those who were given exemptions must undergo test 3 to 5 days after arrival in the US, and undergo at least seven days quarantine.