“We were supposed to leave at the beginning of 2020, we canceled and rescheduled several times, and we risk having to do it again…”. On the other end of the phone, Anthony sighs. This 29-year-old bakery seller, who lives in Liège (Belgium), plans to go to the United States in April for “a road trip on the East Coast” with his partner. But the young couple could well be prevented from doing so. The reason ? Neither are vaccinated against Covid-19, a condition still required to travel to the country of Uncle Sam.
Covid may be relegated to the past for the vast majority of the population – the World Health Organization plans to raise its highest level of alert soon – a few rare countries still require foreign travelers to have received at least two doses, if they want to cross the border. Among them, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs mentions Angola, Pakistan… as well as the United States.
No exception for Djokovic
To be precise, children, permanent residents, those for whom injection is contraindicated or those who must travel for emergency or humanitarian reasons are not affected by this obligation.
The world number 1 in tennis, Novak Djokovic, is also paying the price. Unvaccinated, he will not participate in the Miami Masters 1000, which begins this Wednesday. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, a fierce opponent of health restrictions, pleaded his case and wrote to US President Joe Biden. Without success.
“I have vaccinated people in my family, and they too find this rule very surprising”, squeals Anthony, who says he has not “wanted” nor “felt the need” to go through the injection box for more than two years. “Frankly, it is inexplicable! If you are vaccinated and you go to the United States, you can still bring the virus there”, thunders the young Belgian.
“No reason to force vaccination against Covid-19”
Epidemiologist Antoine Flahault shares this misunderstanding, on a purely “scientific” level. “There is no reason to force vaccination against Covid-19 today, because the vaccine does not prevent infection and we have no idea how long it lasts. reduces transmission after the last injection,” points out the director of the Geneva Institute of Global Health.
Nevertheless, “culturally, North Americans easily resort to compulsory vaccination, not only in the field of Covid-19”, he recalls. For example, every student must be immunized against new diseases to enroll in university in the United States. That of Indiana had even imposed vaccination against… the Covid.
The vaccination obligation for foreigners across the Atlantic is also considered “obsolete” by the “US Travel Association”, the lobby of the travel industry. When will it end? No doubt soon. The House of Representatives voted a text to this effect on Wednesday February 8, but the last word will go to the White House. The date of April 10 “at the earliest” was announced in January, then was mentioned that of May 11, when the state of health emergency will end in the United States.
Martin, thirty-year-old Parisian, preferred to take the lead and postpone until July the trip to California that he has dreamed of doing with two friends since they met at university, “as a precaution”. He is not vaccinated, but his two friends are. “I really hope the rule goes away by then, otherwise they’ll hate me,” he laughs.