U.S. announces end of COVID-19 vaccine requirements

May 3, 2023

Ryan Witkowski


The United States will soon be ending COVID-19 vaccination requirements for non-U.S. travelers entering the country at the Canada or Mexico borders.

On May 1, the White House announced they would be ending vaccine requirements for federal employees, federal contractors and international air travelers. The requirements will be lifted on May 12, the same date the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency is set to expire.

“Our administration’s vaccination requirements 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,” a statement from the White House read.

To coincide with the lifting of the federal requirements, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security also announced they would begin the process to end vaccine requirements for Head Start educators, CMS-certified healthcare facilities and noncitizens entering the country at the U.S. land border.

“Beginning May 12, 2023, DHS will no longer require non-U.S. travelers entering the United States via land ports of entry and ferry terminals to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and provide related proof of vaccination upon request,” the agency said in a statement.

The announcement marks the end of over three years of vaccine restrictions at the country’s borders. According to the White House, Since January 2021, COVID-19 deaths have declined by 95%, and hospitalizations are down nearly 91%.

“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,” the White House said.

The lifting of the cross-border vaccine requirements has been long awaited. On Oct. 1, 2022, the Canadian government ended its COVID-19 border and travel measures. The move left some wondering when the U.S. would follow suit, including the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association.

“Since commercial drivers spend the majority of their time alone in their vehicle and outside, there is no evidence that truckers present a higher risk of spreading the virus,” the Association wrote in a letter to President Joe Biden. “Moreover, there is no evidence that truckers have been the source of any coronavirus outbreaks within the United States, suggesting that the cross-border mandate is likely to be having little, if any, effect.”

Throughout the mandate, OOIDA argued that truck drivers should be exempt from vaccine requirements because they are essential workers. LL