Biden Faces Backlash Over ‘Outdated’ Vaccine Policy For International Visitors

The White House implemented a policy that required foreign visitors to the U.S. to be vaccinated against COVID-19, but a growing number of public health experts and other officials now say that it is past time for that restriction to be lifted.

According to Dr. Joel Zinberg, who heads the Public Health and American Well-Being Initiative at Paragon Health Institute, the requirement has become “outdated” and is no longer needed as a protection against the pandemic virus.

He added that the “benefits of vaccination in terms of limiting transmission are small” since COVID-19 subvariants are now capable of being spread throughout communities regardless of the vaccination rate.

Dr. Anand Parekh, the chief medical advisor for the Bipartisan Policy Center, accused the Biden administration of instituting a “double standard” for citizens and visitors. Instead of mandating vaccines for foreigners visiting the country, he said that “guardrails” including encouraging shots, face mask use, and COVID-19 testing should be sufficient to achieve the administration’s goals.

As it stands, however, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention appear to be satisfied with the status quo. Agency spokesman Nick Spinelli affirmed that foreign visitors must prove their vaccination status when arriving by air, noting that the CDC website “will be updated when there are changes to the guidance.”

A former CDC spokesperson, on the other hand, believes the federal agency should look to other Western countries to develop a different standard.

“People who are affected by these kinds of policies often look to see whether things are being done consistently,” Glen Nowak said. “If you’re inconsistent, that can damage your credibility.”

Even CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky seemed to acknowledge that the agency has sustained credibility damage based on its shifting recommendations throughout the pandemic. In a recent statement, she referenced a plan to implement new reforms designed to rebuild the public’s trust.

“As a longtime admirer of this agency and a champion for public health, I want us all to do better,” Walesnky said.

Yale School of Public Health researcher Jason Schwartz concluded that the onset of COVID-19 caught the agency off guard, leaving it unprepared to create a cohesive and consistent response plan.

“We saw during COVID that CDC’s structures, frankly, weren’t designed to take in information, digest it and disseminate it to the public at the speed necessary,” he said.