This week, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) rolled out a sweeping new vaccine mandate for essential cross-border travelers — including truck drivers — that will go into effect in just a few months.

In an October 12 statement, federal officials stated that “beginning in early January 2022, DHS will require that all inbound foreign national travelers crossing U.S. land or ferry POEs – whether for essential or non-essential reasons – be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 and provide related proof of vaccination. This approach will provide ample time for essential travelers such as truckers, students, and healthcare workers to get vaccinated.”

The U.S. has closed borders to non-essential travelers since the pandemic began in March 2020. Truck drivers, as essential workers, were not included in that travel ban.

DHS also announced this week that starting in early November, the U.S. “will begin allowing travelers from Mexico and Canada who are fully vaccinated for COVID-19 to enter the United States for non-essential purposes, including to visit friends and family or for tourism, via land and ferry border crossings.”

Canada opened borders to non-essential fully vaccinated U.S. travelers in August 2021.

It’s unclear how the new vaccine mandate will impact cross-border truck travel in early 2022, but the news comes during a time of growing concern about weakness in the global supply chain. A significant portion of the trucking community is hesitant to get the COVID-19 vaccine, with only 27.4% of CDLLife poll respondents currently vaccinated and 26% reporting that they’d prefer to be fired rather than to take the vaccine.

The White House is also pushing forward vaccine and testing mandates for all U.S. companies with 100 or more employees. This week the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) sent the vaccine rule to the Office of Management and Budget for review. While the approval process can often drag for weeks or months, Biden has called for an expedited review.

In September, the Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) warned that vaccine mandates “could lead to a massive driver exodus from this great industry.”

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