Opening America's Doors Only to the Vaccinated Isn't Good Enough

A vaccine mandate for international visitors cuts Africa off for no good reason.


Last week, the Biden administration announced that it was in the process of opening up America's borders. For the past year, international families have been kept apart on the basis of policies which seem to have only the slightest connection to public health. But the border opening will come with a catch: To travel to the United States, international travelers must be vaccinated against COVID-19. The policy will be a de facto ban on travel from the developing world in general, and from Africa in particular.

In the U.S., the last few months have been spent trying to coax, cajole, and coerce the most reluctant among us to get vaccinated. But the situation is very different in many parts of the world. As of mid-July, only about 1 percent of Africans had been vaccinated. This isn't because the other 99 percent have been offered vaccines and chosen not to get them. The shots simply aren't available. It's possible that shots won't be available to the average citizen of an African country for a long time to come.

It's no real tragedy, perhaps, if someone's trip to Disneyland ends up getting canceled because he doesn't have access to a vaccine. But it is a tragedy to cut the majority of a continent off from cultural and economic exchange with the rest of the world. Last year sent Africa spiraling into its first recession in 25 years, with growth plummeting to -3.3 percent. The price of food became dangerously high for a continent where food insecurity has long been endemic. American imports of African goods dropped by a little over 20 percent last year—no small thing, given that the U.S. has historically been sub-Saharan Africa's third-largest trading partner outside the continent.

The border closures and economic shutdowns have been devastating to many African countries in a way that the virus itself has not yet been. In a place where many were barely making ends meet, 29 million people slid into extreme poverty over the course of last year.

The Biden administration's vaccine requirement for international travel threatens to sever a strong and growing relationship between the U.S. and Africa. Over the past decade, American imports from Ghana have grown by nearly 600 percent. Other countries demonstrate an even starker pattern of growth—imports from Senegal, for instance, have risen 1,800 percent in the last ten years. It might only take a year or two for vaccines to become widely available in Africa, but a year or two is long enough to damage the enterprises that have been responsible for this enormous economic growth.

All of this has taken place on a continent with the world's lowest rate of coronavirus deaths per capita.

It's false to say that the majority of those who will be locked out by the vaccine requirement weren't going to be able to afford to travel anyway. Many African countries have a large and growing middle class. Just like many people around the globe, members of that group want to see the world and experience new cultures. About 41,000 international students from sub-Saharan Africa were studying in the U.S. during the 2019–20 school year, and a little over 2 million Africans have chosen to make the U.S. their permanent home. If an African woman living in the U.S. wants to invite family members still living in Africa to come visit her, she might now be waiting for years before they are able to meet vaccine requirements.

Many Americans and Europeans will be happy to see trans-Atlantic travel start moving again, even if it means that the African continent will be locked out. But this is in no one's long-term interest.

If President Joe Biden chooses to enforce a vaccine mandate on all international travelers, it will likely encourage foreign governments to impose vaccine requirements on incoming Americans. Many Americans have family and friends outside the country. If you need to travel overseas to see your dying parent, and you need to get a vaccine to travel overseas, the vaccine will no longer be, in any meaningful sense, voluntary.

The stakes of vaccine mandates are high. The government should think twice before imposing restrictions that will effectively ban most people traveling from a continent that is already struggling. Everyone is frustrated by the interminable travel restrictions, which in some cases seem to have little to do with public health. But this attempt to get things back to "normal" will only make things worse. History tells us that once this policy is rolled out, it may be extremely hard to undo. The U.S. only rescinded its HIV entry restrictions in 2009, long after the disease had been circulating in the country and officials realized how it spreads.

If we accept international vaccine requirements, we should expect them to linger for decades. Free travel as we knew it will be a thing of the past—and those who can't access vaccines will be hurt the most.

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  1. I donated the vaccine designated for me to a person living in a developing country.

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    2. Maybe Ms Kennedy should go talk to Mr Soave since he just put forth the (very libertarian, I’m sure) argument that State Employees should be required to vaccinate as a condition of employment.

      I fully agree with this article though- we should not be mandating vaccinations what so ever- for employees or travelers.

      1. They who take jobs coercing, robbing and killing fellow citizens to please Our Kleptocracy waive rights same as any other conspirators to violent robbery. Red China’s Kleptocracy is doubtless cooking up fresh batches using stronger recipes.

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    3. There is really no good reaason for Africans sub Saharan or North to entering the US.

      1. Let’s see; the diamond trade, the many companies extracting, and delaing in rare metals (look at your phone); I could go on but, and…the reasons for continued trade are many; the reason we should look at such, is kinda disgusting. This is a global plague, made so by our international travel. We have enough vaccines to begin to innoculate ther planet, and until, and unless we do; and virus will speak for itself. All we can do is mitigate; vax and mask. Mask will not be forever. And virus does not hear or care what ID we may place on people, Saharan; North African; we humans, each and every one, are vector potentially. Virus will tell; the voice of this virus is death, and it is a fairly mild plague, so far. Let’s not find out how bad it could get, though we may yet…peace

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    4. No, no you haven’t. President Biden just said the U.S, is donating 100 million doses; do the math, it is about what, 1/70th of what the world needs. And we have 100’s of millions of doses, and can make as many vaccination Covid doses as the world needs, we are America. And give Cuba syringes; with holding them is disgusting, and morally criminal at least. And people are just beginning to realize that virus will speak for itself; virus don’t play that, for an old, funny reference…peace good brother. I have more questions than you do, and I’m good with vax. And we still gotta mask up; look, the odds, and the science are clear enough that jab is most important; I have looked fair far as I can, way beyond the just do it rah, rah; I understand your gave away your shot routine; catch virus, and you most likely will wish you had; and Delta is one of many. Virus can go in either direction; don’t bet your life on it; it’s begun to go after children, as feared, and just as the machine wants mom and dad in work and the children in school. Virus will speak for itself; mask up, and get jabbed meanwhile.

  2. It’s possible that shots won’t be available to the average citizen of an African country for a long time to come.

    Not when we’re insisting on forcing precious doses on every American regardless of whether or not they have developed natural immunity from prior infection. Let’s face it, the most progressive Vaccine Vicki doesn’t care about any third world suffering as much as she cares about signaling loudly her superior inoculation morality here at home.

    1. We’re NOT allowed to bring up prior infection. 187% of the unvaccinated have no prior infection or any natural immunity at all. They are unvaccinated, full stop.

      1. We certainly don’t appear to be allowed to incorporate it in any articles about public health policy and COVID-19.

    2. And cloth face coverings work. They are better than 0%.

    3. All cursed with having to travel, have to take a chance on a maybe real vaccination to re-enter These States. And then be forced to take the slobber test, and forced again to take a different test before being released from These United Hoovervilles (or forfeit the ticket it took months to acquire). On Texas sidewalks signs beckon and in every Florida airport loudspeakers crackle offers of “free” communivirus shots, no appointments, ID or questions asked. In Trumpista banana republics the news blares that millions of doses were lost, stolen, counterfeited, spoilt etc… yet statistics are about the same.

    4. Reason found a GOP preppie to compose something to please the FaecesJesus, Narcs and the other Trump fuehrertreuen.

      1. Keine Leute hier ohne ihre Ausweise.

  3. Opening America’s Doors Only to the Vaccinated Isn’t Good Enough

    Fortunately you can get around the doors on the southern border.

  4. The stakes of vaccine mandates are high. The government should think twice before imposing restrictions that will effectively ban most people traveling from a continent that is already struggling.

    “Think twice”? This is supposedly a libertarian publication, and the best you people can muster about the government mandating the injection of a foreign substance into everyone’s body (one that is not FDA approved and has no longterm testing, no less) is that the government should “think twice” about attaching travel restrictions?

    1. Reason’s initial reaction to New York instituting its internal passport policy was that it was for our own good. “Think twice” is at least a step up from that.

    2. Even better, go look at Soave’s DeSantis article. Soave specifically says that DeSantis should be criticized because he has made it harder for public schools to require vaccination as a condition of employment.

  5. Do you want more Trump? This is how you get more Trump.

  6. I guess that’s the other 1%.

    I bet the slave descendants are glad they came over now.

    I wouldn’t be bragging about my African heritage anytime soon.

  7. Welcome to, Bailey Kennedy!

    You’re off to a terrific start promoting Charles Koch’s open borders agenda in the middle of a pandemic. I think you have the potential to be the next Shikha Dalmia.


  8. No no, your next article outright states that the out of power GOP is far more authoritarian. Clearly the left wing democrat socialist party is doing the right thing.

    1. Note to foreign readers: nationalsocialist and communist agitators routinely infiltrate these open fora to urge voters to vote communist of nazi, while struggling to ignore the 50-year existence of the Libertarian party they seek to infiltrate and destroy with tax-subsidized “elections.”

      1. You mean fascists and pretend libertarians like you, Hank?

  9. So wait a second, I shouldn’t be allowed to walk down the street without my vaccine passport, but some jackass from Africa should be able to walk down that same street without his vaccine passport?

    1. You got it, Moonrocks. What this article tells me is that the vaccine really isn’t all that important, that the advantages of being able to mingle with Africans and other third worlders far outweighs the trivial danger of coming down with Covid. Of course, that necessarily means that the big panic about how not enough people in the U.S. have vaccinated is bullshit–unless, of course, our masters have gotten really good about holding contradictory positions at the same time.

    2. Not only that but this Harvard educated imbecile actually thinks people from Africa are “imports”. Somebody should tell him that slavery actually ended in the US a long while ago so a vaccine mandate on people from Africa should have little impact on product imports from Africa.

      Also, is he so stupid as to think a long raft of other vaccinations are not required for international travel? If the issue is scarcity of doses, stop mandating 150% coverage while mismanaging the supply chain. If COVID is as bad as progressive totalitarians claim then we should be minimizing the risk of new populations introducing new strains which is most easily accomplished through vaccine mandates.

  10. I will add a second welcome to OBL’s. And, one can just state that the policy is, as many if not most DNC/left-leaning/progressive policies tend to be, one that has more severe impact on non-whites, the economically disadvantaged, and is not based on any sort of scientific evidence. Authoritarian, anti-science, and racist is not a good look, but it’s been in favor with the finger-pointing party of our ‘betters’ for more than a century.

    1. “ one that has more severe impact on non-whites, the economically disadvantaged,”

      Only in shithole countries.

      1. “Authoritarian, anti-science, and racist”

        No wonder you showed up.

    2. Note to foreign readers. Kleptocracy loudmouths ignore the way a monkey virus from largely mohammedan Africa found its way into Afghani heroin to infect both the Russian and Yank troops of The Great Satan. Why expose germ warfare if it can instead be parlayed into a gay-baiting rampage in a war on some drugs?

  11. As of mid-July, only about 1 percent of Africans had been vaccinated. This isn’t because the other 99 percent have been offered vaccines and chosen not to get them. The shots simply aren’t available. It’s possible that shots won’t be available to the average citizen of an African country for a long time to come.

    Surely they have the highest death rate of any country on the planet, yes? And what’s the mask compliance look like on the continent?


    o Poor
    o Fair
    o Good
    o Excellent

  12. “Opening America’s Doors Only to the Vaccinated Isn’t Good Enough”
    Hey, good start! Looks like someone might care about freedom and rights, and possibly the steamrolling totalitarianism we’re suffering.

    “A vaccine mandate for international visitors cuts Africa off for no good reason.”

    That’s where you went with it?

    “Forced ‘vaccination’ and closing businesses to insufficiently obedient Americans: nevermind that. But how dare you restrict foreigners traveling into the US!”

    1. I always say, you can tell a lot about a person by what gets them animated– or not animated.

    2. In case you didn’t read, this article is about a vaccine mandate for international visitors. Never once did she say she DIDN’T care about your 2nd to last sentence.

  13. This is where I would tell the Africans to go to Canada instead… but then I remembered Trudeau has been 10x more harsh with his “post-national” country in regards to borders than Trump was.

  14. The legitimate purpose of government is to protect our rights.

    The legitimate purpose of the police is to protect our rights from criminals.

    The legitimate purpose of criminal courts is to protect our rights from the police.

    The legitimate purpose of the military is to protect our rights from foreign threats.

    And the legitimate purpose of our immigration service to protect our rights from unvaccinated visitors, among other threats, as well.

    You’re actually hurting the argument for open borders–one of the best arguments for which is that if everyone coming through a checkpoint (rather than sneaking across the border) we could check things like criminal status, make sure they’re vaccinated, etc. and see that our rights are better protected from infectious diseases and wanted criminals than they are now.

    The legitimate purpose of African governments is to protect the rights of Africans. I am not here to be a sacrifice to your preference for people in some other part of the world. If you want to live under a government that places the security of Africans above that of American voters, please emigrate to some country in Africa.

    I am not here for your benefit. I am not here for the benefit of people in other countries. I am not here for the benefit of the U.S. government. The U.S. government is here for my benefit. In fact, living in a free and just society requires a government that cares more about protecting our rights than it does about your qualitative preference for people elsewhere in the world.

    If you want to donate to a charity that vaccinates people in Africa or any other part of the world, feel free to do so.

    1. Government starts out by violating your rights — biweekly tax theft, draft registration, etc.

      If you want to donate to some rights protecting organization, feel free to do so.

      I’ll even understand if they resort to the use of force once in a while to bring suspected rights violators to justice, as long as those suspects are tried in open public courts, and the agents of those courts are personally liable for any mistakes they make carrying out valid warrants.

  15. If unvaccinated visitors are such a big problem why not set up vaccination centers in the airport and vaccinate them as they come through customs?

    1. Or just have a robot arm with a needle on the door of the plane as you exit?

  16. God forbid we should lack cultural enrichment from Africa. We have so much to learn from them.

    1. My uncle did. He traveled to Africa, learned from them and made a fortune over there. He recently passed away and willed his estate to me! All I need to do is send a $10,000 customs fee over there to have the millions transferred to me. Can I borrow some money?

  17. We ought not exist merely to prop up the economies of other nations.

  18. Ah, I see. Let in unvaccinated foreigners, and then blame only unvaccinated citizens (well, only icky deplorables from flyover country) for Covid spread, mutations, etc. Nice touch.

    1. Yeah. That is rather myopic.

  19. Only 1% of Africans can afford to travel to the US. I’m sure they can use their privileged position to access a vaccine.

  20. I’m 100% the headline under the last idiot would have been: “Trump promotes racist vaccination policy.”

    Not a peep in this article or anyone in the media about the racial outcome of this decision. The world sees sexism in the word “nice” (Psaki) and racism in anything Trump did, but apparently this gets a pass.

    Just more evidence that PC and CRT are all political bullshit in order to advance a controlling agenda.

  21. Opening America’s Doors Only to the Vaccinated Isn’t Good Enough

    Reason: “Long live the Socialist International!”

  22. False. You can just quarantine new arrivals and give them one of the thousands shots that Americans are too stupid to take. If they have enough money to emigrate here they can prudish even afford to pay a couple bucks when idiots here won’t even do it for a free donut.

    1. *probably afford*

      Stupid phone

    2. Legal immigrants already have numerous vaccine requirements, as do visitors from many countries.

      Apparently, Reason thinks that there should be special exemptions for illegal aliens and Africans.

  23. What a ludicrous article. The average citizen from Africa is not visiting Disneyland. The average citizen from Africa who has relatives here is NOT average because they are receiving money from the relative living here. Everyone visiting here has the money for a plane flight and therefore money for a vaccine and therefore they can get the vaccine.

    I’m in favor of quickly trying to eliminate travel restrictions and not listening to one word the unvax may utter in trying to keep the restrictions. But I swear the OBL parody of Reason is dead on when it comes to anything tangential to immigration.

    1. As an very relevant aside – any American going to most African countries south of the Sahara is required to get a yellow fever vaccine – from a travel clinic that issues a yellow fever certificate. And you damn well better have the polio, DPT and MMR vaccines. And talk to the travel clinic about anti-malaria, anti-cholera, anti-dysentary, and anti-hepatitis treatments.

      It’s like this author has never actually BEEN to Africa.

  24. Africans along with illegal aliens from over 130 countries are freely entering the US coming across the southern border. There are Africans walking through Colombia heading to the border. The illegal aliens will be introducing the Lambada variant over the next few months. Eventually they will bring a variant that breaks through the vaccine. Biden is only restricting legal travel but encouraging illegal.

    1. The northern border is a lot less secure. And Canada lets in pretty much everyone.

  25. Libertarianism at its stupidest. Sure, as we try to overcome local stupidity and get everyone vaccinated, why not lift all limits on unvaccinated travelers so we can undo all that work? Do these retards hear themselves?

    If Africans are really suffering we should be spending money getting them vaccinated, not reimporting the virus.

    1. And if infection and vaccination rates are low, we shouldn’t be bringing in susceptible people so we can send them back with Delta.

  26. Do ‘travelers’ include foreign students in American universities? If so, higher education is going to take a big financial hit.

  27. Meh. All they need to do is go to Mexico, then walk across the US border. No pesky questions about vaccinations asked.

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