US still deciding on vaccines it will accept for transatlantic travel

AstraZeneca, received by tens of millions in Europe, not approved by America’s regulator

The US government is still deciding which Covid-19 vaccines it will accept for entry once transatlantic travel resumes into the country from November.

The Centre for Disease Control and Protection (CDC) is working out how the Biden administration's change in policy, permitting fully vaccinated people into the country, will operate in light of the fact that the US has not approved the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine domestically.

Announcing plans last week to reopen international travel, the White House said that foreign visitors from 33 countries, including Ireland, would be permitted to enter from November if they can demonstrate proof of vaccination and have a negative Covid-19 test.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has so far only approved the Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson shots for use. It is still reviewing the AstraZeneca jab, which has been approved within the EU.


Almost 1.2 million doses of the Anglo-Swedish vaccine AstraZeneca have been administered in the State and tens of millions have been given across the EU.

Reports last week suggested that the CDC would consider people to be fully vaccinated if they have any FDA-approved vaccine approved by the World Health Organisation, which has signed off on AstraZeneca.

Travel purposes

The White House is working on the new travel policy between US government agencies but is awaiting clarity from the CDC on which vaccines will be accepted for travel purposes.

The CDC said that it was “actively working with vaccine experts regarding which vaccinations will be accepted, age that the requirements will start to apply and the operationalising of this requirement”.

The US government agency said that it would provide more information about these requirements in the coming weeks.

"Our sense is they are going to allow the AstraZeneca jab," said one Irish Government official. "It will cause more questions and problems for them if they don't."

The CDC currently considers anyone to be fully vaccinated if they have received an FDA-authorised vaccine or a vaccine approved for emergency use by the WHO.

The European Commission has said that it would make sense for people vaccinated with AstraZeneca to be able to travel to the US, but that this was a decision for American authorities.

The WHO has also approved the vaccine produced by China's state-owned drugmaker Sinopharm.

Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell is The Irish Times’s Public Affairs Editor and former Washington correspondent