The EU wants to add a 9-month limit to vaccine eligibility for entry

Nov 25, 2021

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Earlier this year, the EU reopened to vaccinated travelers after more than a year of border closures. Many countries were allowed to safely reopen with the EU Digital COVID Certificate rollout — and more than 650 million certificates have been issued since this summer.

QR code with EU COVID digital certificate displayed on a mobile phone in front of a restaurant in Port-en-Bessin-Huppain.
On Saturday, July 17, 2021, in Port-en-Bessin-Huppain, Calvados, Normandy, France. (Photo by Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Yet, the fight to end the COVID-19 pandemic isn’t over. Today, the EU Commission has announced that it is considering a nine-month vaccine validity mandate for travelers as COVID-19 cases are soaring in parts of Europe.

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This nine-month window is based on the guidance of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), giving three additional months to the current recommendation of receiving a booster shot six months after the last dose.

“We have vaccinated over 65% of the total EU population, but this is not enough,” said Stella Kyriakides, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety for the EU Commission. “There are still too many people who are not protected. For everyone to travel and live as safely as possible, we need to reach significantly higher vaccination rates – urgently.”

This proposal is twofold — encouraging those who are unvaccinated to receive their first set of shots and recommending those who are already vaccinated to get their boosters as soon as they become accessible.

Didier Reynders, Commissioner for Justice, said, “Based on our common tool, the EU Digital COVID Certificate, which has become a real standard, we are moving to a ‘person-based’ approach. Our main objective is [to] avoid diverging measures throughout the EU.”

If you have a valid EU Digital COVID Certificate, the EU Commission proposes that you should not be subject to additional tests or quarantine within the EU, based on this person-based approach. However, for those without a certificate, you could be subject to a COVID-19 test before or after arrival.

Related: Top questions this week on vaccination/travel requirements to the US and Europe

However, the Commission does not have a clear stance yet on the validity of booster shots. “Given the emerging data, it can be expected that protection from booster vaccinations may last longer than that resulting from the primary vaccination series. The Commission will closely monitor newly emerging scientific evidence on this issue. On the basis of such evidence, the Commission may, if needed, propose an appropriate acceptance period also for vaccination certificates issued following a booster.”

The EU Commission aims to provide further guidance no later than Jan. 10, 2022 — so stay tuned if a nine-month validity period will apply for entry into the EU.

Featured photo by Photo by ERIC LALMAND/BELGA/AFP for Getty Images.

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