PAHO says no to covid19 vaccination proof for overseas travel

China's Sinopharm vaccine currently being administered in Trinidad and Tobago as part of the covid19 vaccine drive. - Photo by Lincoln Holder
China's Sinopharm vaccine currently being administered in Trinidad and Tobago as part of the covid19 vaccine drive. - Photo by Lincoln Holder

Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) has advised governments within the Americas against imposing proof of covid19 vaccination requirement to enter and leave the country.

In a webinar on Wednesday morning Dr Roberta Andraghetti, regional adviser for PAHO and the World Health Organization (WHO), speaking on implementing a risk-based approach to international travel resumption, said it was an infringement of human rights and freedom of movement if covid19 vaccination is mandatory to leave or enter a country.

The International Association for Medical Assistance to Travellers says most countries in the region already require yellow fever vaccination certificates for travellers coming from a country with any risk of yellow fever transmission.

Few require tetanus, diphtheria, measles, mumps, rubella, polio, and Influenza vaccinations, but less than a handful require none.

But although some countries have already made covid19 vaccination certificates mandatory, Andraghetti said, “Documentation of vaccination against covid19 cannot be introduced as a condition for entering or exiting, because of the scientific unknown, and to prevent deepening inequities.

"Also, we must be careful not to infringe the human right and freedom of movement.”

She said another reason was the limited access to WHO-approved vaccines worldwide.

“Due to the limited supply and priority groups to receive the vaccines, international travellers cannot be regarded as a population of priority just because they want to travel. It will be counterproductive for the vaccine equity goal.”

PAHO/WHO encourages countries to find innovative ways of reintroducing travel international travel and restarting their tourism sectors.

She recommends monitoring international travellers, establishing covid19 travel guidelines and screenings as part of risk mitigation efforts, such as: “international contact tracing, environment control measures, multi sectoral co-ordination and planning for disease prevention and control, surveillance and case management.

Other supplementary risk mitigation measures are mandatory quarantine for international travellers, covid19 testing on or after arrival, and – if crucial – temporary suspension of travel.

Currently, PAHO/WHO is not advising the reopening of the cruise ship industry, “because of the complexity and the lack of full understanding of what has happened, in terms of dynamic of transmission, at the beginning of the pandemic,” she said, adding that recent attempts to reopen the industry were unsuccessful, as cruise liners struggled to limit covid19 spread.

In the coming six weeks, Trinidad and Tobago may see its borders reopened.

On June 5, at a press conference, the Prime Minister signalled his intentions – once all goes well – to lift restrictions on international travel. The country closed its borders on March 21, 2020.


"PAHO says no to covid19 vaccination proof for overseas travel"

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