Travelers will need a booster shot to use Europe’s COVID-19 Health Pass 9 months after their second vaccination dose.
On Tuesday, the European Union declared that COVID-19 vaccine certificates would only be valid for 9 months without a booster shot. As a result, travelers who were fully vaccinated in early 2021 would need a booster shot now.
The new rule—which comes into force on February 1, 2022—will be for traveling within the EU. The bloc recommends member states use it on a national level too.
The news comes as European nations fight to secure more vaccine doses as COVID-19 cases surge as the Omicron variant continues to spread.
The New EU COVID-19 Health Pass Rules
The new rule concerns traveling within the EU. However, the European Commission said the EU recommends EU member states apply it nationally to “provide certainty for travelers and reduce disruptions.”
The EU recommends all EU citizens take a booster shot 6 months after their second vaccine dose at the latest. The EU will make the EU COVID-19 Health Pass valid for an extra 3 months to ensure citizens have full access to booster doses.
Also, the EU will extend the validity of the COVID-19 Health Pass without a set limit after the booster shot. An EU official said there’s no time limit on the booster shot because of a lack of scientific evidence surrounding the duration of the booster jab.
The European Commission also introduced a new rule for the recording of the booster shot in vaccine passports. A booster dose after receiving two prior vaccine doses should be “3/3” in the certificate. A single dose vaccination followed by a booster shot should be “2/1”.
EU member states can block the new rule if a qualified majority of EU governments or a majority of European parliament members decide against the booster shot requirement. Officials believe they have more than enough backing within EU member states to pass the new requirement.
According to the European Commission, the EU has issued around 807 million COVID-19 Health passes so far in 2021.
The EU COVID-19 Health Pass
The EU COVID-19 Health Pass is a digital proof a person has either:
- Been fully vaccinated against COVID-19
- Recovered from COVID-19
- Received a negative test result
All EU citizens and their family members can get the EU COVID-19 Health Pass.
Also, non-EU nations legally staying or residing in a member state and have the right to travel to other member states can get the COVID-19 Health Pass.
Currently, national authorities are in charge of issuing the certificate. For example, test centers and health authorities can issue the certificate.
How does the COVID-19 Health Pass Work?
- The EU COVID-19 Health Pass contains a QR code with a digital signature
- When people check the COVID-19 Health Pass, they will scan the QR code and check the signature
Some Benefits Of The EU COVID-19 Health Pass
- Fully vaccinated persons holding an EU Digital COVID Certificate should be exempt from travel-related testing or quarantine 14 days after having received the last dose. This should also cover recovered persons having received a single dose of a 2-dose vaccine.
- Recovered persons holding an EU Digital COVID Certificate should be exempt from travel-related testing or quarantine during the first 180 days after a positive PCR test.
- Persons with an EU Digital COVID test certificate should be exempt from possible quarantine requirements: 72 hours for PCR tests and, where accepted by a Member State, 48 hours for rapid antigen tests.
Most travelers will now need to ensure they’ve had the booster shot. Otherwise, they’ll need to meet testing requirements or have proof of recovery from COVID-19 to get the COVID-19 Health Pass.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com