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New vaccine mandate bans foreign visitors who got the wrong shot

We spoke with a couple separated by the new rule
Posted at 1:26 AM, Nov 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-12 01:26:15-05

PORT CHARLOTTE — Imagine being fully-vaccinated against COVID-19 and still being told you can’t get on an airplane.

That’s the reality this week for millions of people across the world, thanks to a new proclamation signed by President Joe Biden. Foreign nationals now have to be vaccinated with an approved vaccine in order to travel to the United States.

“It’s very frustrating because there’s not a timeline to it," said Daniela Zamuvio, who is now stuck in Mexico because of the new proclamation.

We met up with her boyfriend, Jason Hayner, who lives in Port Charlotte and we spoke with Zamuvio in a Zoom call on his laptop. That's how they have to stay in touch for now.

“I couldn’t even make a guess as to when I could have Daniela in the states with me," said Hayner.

Zamuvio can’t be here because the proclamation says foreign nationals can’t fly to the United States if they don’t have an approved vaccine.

“Her vaccine that she received from the Mexican Government back in May is the CanSino vaccine, which is not approved by the CDC,” said Hayner.

The CanSino vaccine was developed in China and has been approved for use in nine countries around the world.

But the U.S. isn’t one of them, and that meant Zamuvio had to cancel her flight last weekend.

“It hit me and I was like oh, I don’t think I’ll be able to travel, and then we had to call everything off," said Zamuvio.

And Zamuvio isn’t alone. People who got Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine are in the same boat.

“It’s millions of people that are being affected by this and not being allowed to visit their friends and family that reside in the U.S.” said Hayner.

With millions of people now facing these new restrictions, a professor at Florida Gulf Coast University tells us the new restrictions could begin to have an impact on businesses you visit every day. Professor Thomas Felke said areas like Southwest Florida, that rely heavily on the service industry, could start to quickly feel the effect of these restrictions.

"Things like retail, landscaping, all of these types of service-related industries that, we know that that’s where a lot of our workforce migration comes from," said Felke.

And even if Zamuvio wanted to get one of the approved vaccines, there isn’t any data yet on the health impacts of mixing-and-matching with CanSino.

So for now, Hayner and Zamuvio have to settle for a screen.

“If somebody can give me a solution of what to do with my case, because not being able to travel is not one of them," said Zamuvio.

There’s another part of the proclamation Zamuvio and Hayner find unfair. It includes a list of 50 countries that are exempted from the rule, because it’s hard to get access to vaccines in those places.

So people in countries like Libya or Afghanistan can travel to the U.S. unvaccinated as long as they test negative for COVID-19, but people like Zamuvio are stuck.

The list of approved vaccines for travel to the U.S. are:

  • Pfizer-BioNTech
  • Moderna
  • AstraZeneca
  • Covaxin
  • Covishield
  • BIBP/Sinopharm
  • Sinovac
  • Janssen/J&J