EU requiring boosters to extend vaccine passes

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The European Commission announced Tuesday that European Union (E.U.) Digital COVID Certificates, which are required to travel around the bloc, will expire after nine months of being fully vaccinated or receiving a booster shot. 

The change to the system, which has been in place since July, comes amid rising fears over the new omicron variant, which has many countries in the E.U. considering or imposing increased health precautions and restrictions on travel. 

“The new rules will ensure restrictions are based on the best available scientific evidence as well as objective criteria. Continued coordination is essential for the functioning of the Single Market and it will provide clarity for EU citizens in the exercise of their right to free movement,” the European Commission (EC) said in its Tuesday statement. 

Despite the new rules, which go into effect on Feb. 1, individual countries can still require visitors to quarantine or show a negative COVID-19 test, according to The New York Times

Across the E.U., 807 million digital COVID-19 certificates have been issued in 60 countries and territories that use the system, the commission reported. 

The commission noted that its updated criteria for the certificates was in line with guidance from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, which recommends booster shots within six months of an initial vaccine course. The new rules add a three-month grace period for countries to “harmonize” their vaccine booster distribution. 

The bloc-wide guidance states that a person is considered to have been boosted if they have three total vaccine doses after a two-dose vaccination course, or two total vaccine doses after a single-dose vaccination course.

“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,” said EU Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Stella Kyriakides. 

Tags Booster dose Brussels COVID-19 vaccine European Commission European Commission European Union European Union Omicron variant Ursula von der Leyen vaccine pass
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