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The Biden Administration will require all truck drivers who cross US borders to be fully vaccinated.
The mandate will go into effect on January 22 and will pertain to all essential travelers.
The American Trucking Association has warned a vaccine mandate on truckers will have serious consequences.
President Joe Biden will require all truck drivers who cross US land borders to be fully vaccinated by January 22, the administration planned to announce on Tuesday.
The mandate will apply to all essential, nonresident travelers crossing US land borders, including government and emergency response officials.
The decision comes at the same time that the US is facing major supply chain snags — including a shortage of truck drivers. The American Trucking Association warned earlier this month that vaccine mandates for truckers could worsen the supply-chain crisis.
"The US is already facing unprecedented supply chain disruptions and delays due to many factors, including significant labor shortages, production shutdowns, a shortage of raw materials, and pent-up consumer demand," the ATA said in a letter to the administration in October. "Our data shows that a vaccine mandate may very well further cripple the supply chain throughout the country by forcing up to 13% of drivers to leave the industry entirely," the group added.
A senior administration official said the new requirement, which the White House previewed in October, brings the rules for essential travelers in line with those that took effect earlier this month for leisure travelers, when the US reopened its borders to fully vaccinated individuals.
Essential travelers entering by ferry will also be required to be fully vaccinated by the same date, the official said. The official spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity to preview the announcement.
The rules pertain to non-US nationals. American citizens and permanent residents may still enter the US regardless of their vaccination status, but face additional testing hurdles because officials believe they more easily contract and spread COVID-19 and in order to encourage them to get a shot.
The Biden administration pushed the requirement for essential travelers by more than two months from when it went into effect on November 8 to prevent disruptions, particularly among truck drivers who are vital to North American trade. While most cross-border traffic was shut down in the earliest days of the pandemic, essential travelers have been able to transit unimpeded.
The later deadline is beyond the point by which the Biden administration hopes to have large businesses require their employees to be vaccinated or tested weekly under an emergency regulation issued by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration. That rule is now delayed by litigation, but the White House has encouraged businesses to implement their own mandates regardless of the federal requirement with the aim of boosting vaccination.
About 47 million adults in the US remain unvaccinated, according to figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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