Compulsory required vaccination against Covid-19 for children 12 years of age or older (applicable to US adoption cases only)

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In November, 2021 it was announced that the US CDC is introducing a compulsory Covid-19 vaccination requirement for visa applicants 12 years of age or older.

Families adopting children who are 10 years of age or younger can still submit the Affidavit Concerning Exemption from Immigrant Vaccination Requirements for a Foreign Adopted Child (Form DS-1981).

For all other cases, the "blank waiver" will not be applicable for the children adopted from Bulgaria because the criteria cannot be met:

- Not age-appropriate - this requirement is not applicable for Bulgaria because the Bulgarian Ministry of Health has permitted vaccination with the Pfizer vaccine for children who are 5 years of age or older

- Not routinely available where the panel physician practices; or Limited in supply and would cause significant delay for the applicant to receive the vaccination - this requirement is not applicable for Bulgaria because there are Pfizer vaccines routinely available and there is no limitation in the supply.

The only applicable option for having a "blank waiver" is when the vaccine is considered "Contraindicated due to a medical condition". This option would be available in the cases where the child has severe special needs and a medical commission on vaccinations in Bulgaria had issued a decree for the child to be exempt from all vaccinations.

The other option that was discussed as generally available is to apply for individual waivers based on religious beliefs or moral convictions by submitting Form I-601, Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility. However, in order for such a form to be submitted, the child should have received a refusal for visa first. Also, the review of the form takes quite a long time, possibly even up to an year. All of the above makes this option inapplicable for the adoption cases in Bulgaria because of the extreme delay it could bring to the adoption, especially keeping in mind that the form has to be submitted after the court decree has entered into legal form.

The above requirement has made the Bulgarian Central Authority start requesting that prospective adoptive parents of children 10 years of age or older submit Declarations of consent for Covid-19 vaccination.