Many Aussies stuck overseas might not have an easier path home from November 1 when NSW opens its international borders after hitting the 80 per cent vaccination rate. Those who haven’t had a vaccine recognised by Australia’s authorities, might have to bear a little longer.
It means he’ll still have to battle for a flight – NSW will only allow 210 unvaccinated people in per week with tight caps remaining in the rest of the nation – and pay $4000 for hotel quarantine.
There are 47,300 Aussies now registered with DFAT as wanting to come home.
But they can only fly into NSW from November 1 with no quarantine if they’ve had vaccines made by Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson (Janssen), Coronavac (Sinovac) – used by China – and Covishield, mostly used in India.
Other jabs, such as Sputnik and Sinopharm, are not recognised and do not allow their recipients to come home quarantine-free.
For people like James Cater, 30, from Shoalhaven in NSW, who haven’t had a vaccine recognised by Australia’s authorities, the pain continues.
He could only get a Russian vaccine called Sputnik Light after more than 18 months stranded in the country.
“I wish the TGA would just accept Sputnik vaccines as an emergency measure,” he told 9news.com.au.
Mr Cater has been stuck in Russia since the borders closed in March 2020.
He had only planned to be away for a couple of months and because he’s not a Russian resident, he could only get the Sputnik Light vaccine.
Russia’s other jab, Sputnik V, was rejected for listing by Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) and Sputnik Light has not been considered
He is in Novosibirsk, Siberia, and was visiting Anna when the borders closed over 18 months ago.
He has had four flights home cancelled and has spent his life savings of $30,000.
Now he says he’s “fatigued” at the latest hurdle.
“Many Russians are travelling to the Balkans to get their shots so they can travel in Europe on ‘vaccine tours’ but as an Australian, this is not really set up for me, as all of the tours are return flight packages – my current status would not allow me to return to Russia,” he said.
Meanwhile, Russian COVID-19 cases are surging.
“A lot of Russians suspect the death statistics have been diluted quite a bit from the official reporting,” he said.
“Anecdotally, our friend’s father died in June and I suspect one of our neighbours did in March this year.”