Qantas is to drop its controversial vaccine mandate for international travel on the 19th July, nearly two weeks after the Australian federal government lifted its own ban on unvaccinated foreign visitors entering the country.
The Department of Home Affairs dropped vaccine rules for visitors on July 6 but anyone hoping to fly to or from Australia with Qantas still had to prove they had been fully vaccinated with a vaccine approved by Australian authorities.
Qantas boss Alan Joyce was an avid proponent of vaccine mandates for air travel and trumpeted the airline’s ‘no jab, no fly’ policy. The carrier was one of only a small number of airlines that introduced a vaccine mandate on both staff and passengers.
In late 2020, Qantas defended the ‘no jab, no fly’ policy by revealing poll results of frequent flyers that showed 85 per cent believed proof of vaccination should be a requirement to step onboard an international flight.
At the time, it was assumed that COVID-19 vaccines could have a neutralizing effect on the virus. We have since learnt that existing vaccines are highly effective at protecting people from severe disease but are less likely to protect someone from becoming infected.
The BA.5 variant currently causing a spike in COVID-19 cases might not be any more transmissible than other Omicron variants but current evidence suggests it has a higher degree of vaccine escape meaning that you could end up getting infected even if you are fully vaccinated and boosted.
Qantas’ decision to drop its vaccine mandate comes as a divergence on vaccine booster dose policy starts to widen between countries. In Australia, eligibility for a fourth dose of the vaccine was recently widened to include anyone aged 30 and above.
On Monday, however, Europe’s Centre for Disease Prevention and Control concluded that a fourth dose was only currently advisable for people aged 60 and over. People aged under 60 will only be eligible for a second booster if they suffer a medical vulnerability.
Qantas has warned that anyone hoping to travel internationally will be required to submit proof of vaccination right up to the vaccine mandate cut-off date. Proof will not be required from 12:01 am on 19th July.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.