On May 1, the Biden administration announced plans to terminate various COVID-19 vaccine mandates, including requiring foreign travelers to show proof of vaccination.
The White House confirmed that mandates for non-US travelers arriving by air, federal workers, and federal contractors would all end on May 12.
Simultaneously, the US Department of Homeland Security revealed that the vaccination proof requirement at US land borders would also cease on May 12.
Certain mandates will be phased out slower
Though some mandates, such as those for Head Start employees and healthcare facilities certified by federal regulators, will be phased out in the future, specific dates have yet to be provided.
Certain agency mandates, including those of the National Institutes of Health, will remain in place for now.
Initially introduced in 2021 by President Joe Biden and his deputies to increase vaccination rates among Americans, the mandates faced legal challenges, with some deemed illegal.
The Supreme Court struck down a mandate for large private employers, while another for military personnel was withdrawn following congressional action.
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Vaccine mandates ‘bolstered vaccination across the nation’
The White House asserted that the mandates had protected workers in crucial sectors, including healthcare and education.
They stated that the mandates “helped ensure the safety of workers in critical workforces including those in the healthcare and education sectors, protecting themselves and the populations they serve, and strengthening their ability to provide services without disruptions to operations.”
Furthermore, they said that the mandates “bolstered vaccination across the nation, and the broader vaccination campaign has saved millions of lives.”
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Lack of evidence regarding vaccine benefits for third parties
However, Dr. Vinay Prasad, a professor at the University of California, San Francisco, criticized the mandates on Twitter, arguing that they had always been unethical due to a lack of evidence regarding the benefits of vaccination for third parties.
The Dr wrote, “White House advisors were not smart. Initially, there was no proof that forcing a third party provided additional benefit to someone who was vaccinated”.
Despite some officials, including President Biden, making claims about the vaccines’ ability to prevent transmission, infection, or severe illness, the COVID-19 public health emergency is set to end on May 12.
President Biden once said, “You’re not going to get COVID if you have these vaccinations.”
COVID-19 national emergency has also been terminated
This date coincides with the termination of the COVID-19 national emergency, which concluded earlier this month after Biden signed a bill approved by Congress. These emergency declarations provided the foundation for many of the mandates.
While the CDC reported that over 1.1 million people in the US have died from COVID-19, critics argue that this figure includes individuals who died from other primary causes.
However, the death toll for the week ending on April 26 dropped to 1,052, the lowest since March 2020.
The US has entered ‘a new phase’ in its response to COVID
The White House explained that although vaccination remains a critical tool for ensuring employee health and safety, the country has entered a new phase in its response, making these measures unnecessary.
They stated, “While vaccination remains one of the most important tools in advancing the health and safety of employees and promoting the efficiency of workplaces, we are now in a different phase of our response when these measures are no longer necessary.”
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