The European Commission has set a nine-month time limit for the validity of Covid-19 vaccination certificates for international travel.
We reported on the proposals last month, but these have now been adopted by the European Commission and will take effect for the 27 member states from February 1, 2022.
The EU stated that the validity period takes int0 account the guidance of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, which recommends the administration of booster doses six months after the completion of the first vaccination cycle.
The certificates will remain valid for an additional three months beyond the aforementioned six to ensure that countries can provide citizens with access to booster doses. The Commission urges member states to “take all necessary steps” to vaccinate the population groups whose vaccination certificates are approaching the nine-month mark.
Mobile apps used to verify the EU Digital Covid Certificate will be adjusted so that the certificate will appear as ‘expired’ if the date of vaccination is longer than 270 days ago. When it comes to the domestic use of the vaccination certificates, member states can set their own rules.
There will be no time limit on the booster dose as there is not yet “sufficient data regarding the period of protection”.
This comes as lockdown and travel bans spread across Europe due to the rise in cases of the Omicron variant.
Stella Kyriakides, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, said:
“A harmonised validity period for EU Digital COVID Certificate is a necessity for safe free movement and EU level coordination. The strength and success of this invaluable tool for citizens and business lies in its coherent use across the EU. What is needed now is to ensure that booster campaigns proceed as quickly as possible, that as many citizens are protected by an additional dose and that our certificates remain a key tool for travel and protection of public health.”
Didier Reynders, Commissioner for Justice, added:
“The EU Digital COVID Certificate is a success story. We should keep it that way and adjust to changing circumstances and new knowledge. Unilateral measures in the Member States would bring us back to the fragmentation and uncertainties we have seen last spring. The acceptance period of nine months for vaccination certificates will give citizens and businesses the certainty they need when planning their travels with confidence. It’s now up to the Member States to ensure boosters will be rolled out swiftly to protect our health and ensure safe travelling.”
The Commission revealed that 807 million EU Digital Covid Certificates have been issued to date. Last month the NHS Covid Pass was accepted as an equivalent to the European Union’s certificate, allowing travellers to share their vaccination record when travelling abroad.
Travellers in England can show proof of a booster vaccination within the NHS Covid Pass for international travel, with booster vaccinations and third doses appearing automatically in the pass within five days of receiving the jab.