US COVID vaccine policy ending for federal workers, foreign travelers

The relaxed COVID-19 policy extends to federal employees, contractors, Head Start educators and Medicare- and Medicaid-certified providers.

COVID-19 vaccines
Steve Helber / AP

The U.S. is relaxing COVID-19 vaccine requirements. 

The Biden administration announced it will no longer require COVID-19 vaccines for federal employees, contractors, Head Start educators and Medicare- and Medicaid-certified providers. 

In addition, international travelers will no longer be required to provide proof of vaccination before entering the country. This will have a major impact in the sporting world. World No. 1 tennis player Novak Djokovic, who is not vaccinated, has not been allowed to enter the U.S. since the policy went into effect in 2021. He was most recently denied entry in March as he attempted to enter tournaments in California and Florida.

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The new policy will go into effect May 11, which is when the federal COVID-19 public health emergency ends.

More than 1.1 million Americans died from COVID, and the U.S. is still reporting about 1,000 weekly COVID deaths. However, health officials insist the country is in a different place than it was at the height of the pandemic. 

"Since January 2021, COVID-19 deaths have declined by 95%, and hospitalizations are down nearly 91%," the White House said in a statement. 

Vaccination against COVID-19 is still considered the most effective way to prevent severe infection and death. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 70% of eligible Americans have received their primary dose of the vaccine. However, only 16% have received their updated bivalent booster shot, which was formulated to offer better protection against the Omicron variant. 

A second grade student is given a at-home COVID-19 test.

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