The new CDC guidance would apply to immigrants living in the United States seeking to apply for a green card.
“COVID-19 vaccination now meets the criteria for required vaccinations and is a requirement for applicants eligible for the vaccine,” the CDC said on its website.
The agency said that a negative screening for COVID-19, the disease caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, does not guarantee that they won’t have the disease when they become a permanent resident.
“A combination of vaccination and routine infection control practices will provide the best protection from COVID-19 for applicants and U.S. communities,” the CDC asserted.
As such, a green card applicant “must complete the COVID-19 vaccine series and provide documentation of vaccination to the civil surgeon in person” as part of their medical examination. The CDC emphasized that “Self-reported vaccine doses without written documentation are not acceptable.”
It adds that applicants are required to receive the vaccine “regardless of evidence of immunity or prior COVID-19 infection.”
“Laboratory tests for COVID-19 immunity must not be used for the civil surgeon exam. … The duration of immunity due to natural infection is still being investigated and might not protect the applicant throughout the immigration process,” the agency said on its website.
According to the CDC, COVID-19 “meets the definition of a quarantinable communicable disease” and specifically “the definition of severe acute respiratory syndromes” under Presidential Executive Order 13674, thus making it a “Class A Inadmissible Condition.”
Vaccine refusal without an adequate reason would render the applicant inadmissible. Specifically, the CDC said: “If an applicant refuses one or more doses of a COVID-19 vaccine series that is medically appropriate for the applicant, it should be documented that the vaccine requirements are not complete and that the applicant refuses vaccination. This applicant is Class A and is inadmissible to the United States.”
People can apply for exemptions, including to seek a waiver on religious or moral grounds, or a temporary waiver if the COVID-19 vaccine is not available in the person’s area. In the latter case, the examining Civil Surgeon has to document the matter and the person needs to arrange to get the vaccine soon after.
Other reasons allowed for green card applicants to bypass COVID-19 vaccination include being under 12 years old, since the vaccine is only authorized for those over 12 years old; and having a medical condition or allergy that prevents them from taking the vaccine.
Currently, CCP virus vaccines authorized for emergency use in the United States are the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. Under the emergency use authorizations, those 12 years old or above are authorized to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, and those 18 years old or above are authorized to receive the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccines.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Aug. 23 gave full approval to future doses of the COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer-BioNTech for those aged 16 and older, making it the first vaccine to receive full approval in the United States. The existing supply of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine will continue to be administered under an updated emergency use authorization (EUA).
According to U.S. federal law, foreigners who apply for a green card are required to be vaccinated against other diseases, including, mumps, measles, rubella, hepatitis B, polio, and pertussis.