After over a year of closed borders and canceled flights, international travel is looking more feasible as more and more Americans get their COVID-19 vaccine (42 percent have had their first dose as of April 26, according to The New York Times). Over the weekend, Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, told the Times that the European Union was preparing to lift travel restrictions for fully vaccinated Americans.
“The Americans, as far as I can see, use European Medicines Agency-approved vaccines,” von der Leyen said. “All 27 member states will accept, unconditionally, all those who are vaccinated with vaccines that are approved by EMA.”
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The three vaccines used in the U.S.—made by Moderna, Pfizer/BioNTech, and Johnson & Johnson—have all been approved by the EMA. Now regulators in Europe and the U.S. are working out how travelers can prove that they’ve been fully vaccinated. This would involve a so-called “vaccine passport,” a universally accepted document that officials on both sides of the Atlantic could use to verify that a person has received their shots.
“This will enable free movement and the travel to the European Union,” von der Leyen said.
But this doesn’t mean we’re out of the woods yet. The CDC still does not recommend air travel, even for vaccinated Americans. COVID-19 cases have spiked in Michigan, and the virus is ravaging other parts of the globe—India has been hit particularly hard. Even parts of Europe have seen elevated case numbers recently: France logged over 24,000 new cases on April 25 alone, according to data analyzed by The New York Times.
As the vaccine rollout continues this summer and more countries approach herd immunity (70 to 90 percent of all people fully vaccinated), hopefully those alarming numbers will come down.
In the meantime, one thing’s clear: If you want to visit your favorite destinations in Europe or anywhere else, roll up your sleeve and get your shots first.
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