This includes foreign truck drivers and emergency response officials who were previously not covered by the Administration's vaccine mandate for those who cross U.S. borders by land, a senior official told the Associated Press.
In October, the Biden Administration announced that the U.S. borders with Mexico and Canada would be open for nonessential foreign travelers so long as they are immunized and have the proper paperwork. Back at the time, it did not stretch that demand to "essential travelers."
A federal appeals court blocked the mandate, saying petitioners offered significant cause to believe there were "grave statutory and constitutional issues" with the order.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention predicts that 59% of the U.S. population has been entirely vaccinated against COVID-19. For adults over the age of 18, that number rises to 70.8%.
The Biden Administration pushed back the requirement for essential travelers by more than two months from when it went into effect on Nov. 8 for nonessential visitors to prevent disruptions, especially among truckers who are important to North American trade. While most cross-border traffic was diminished in the earliest days of the pandemic, essential travelers have been able to transit unrestrained.
Even with the setback, though, Norita Taylor, spokeswoman for the trucking group Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, criticized the vaccination requirement, calling it an example of "how unnecessary government mandates can force experienced owner-operators and independent truckers out of business."
"These requirements are another example of how impractical regulations will send safe drivers off the road," she said.
The latest deadline is beyond the time by which the Biden Administration hopes to have large businesses demand their employees to be vaccinated or tested weekly under an emergency regulation published by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration. That rule is now delayed by litigation, but the White House has urged businesses to fulfill their mandates regardless of the federal requirement to boost vaccination.
About 47 million adults in the U.S. remain unvaccinated, according to figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.