The European Commission wants to link the validity of the European corona pass to booster shots. The pass allows free travel in the EU without a test. What does the Commission’s new proposal mean and what does it mean for traveling in Europe next year? Below we list four questions about the booster vaccines.
What’s the news?
The European ‘corona passport’ must lose its validity nine months after the last vaccination. That will be the new directive in Europe, if it is up to the European Commission (EC). The EC wants to make the booster mandatory for a valid corona pass, which makes test-free travel in the European Union possible. The Commission issued an opinion to this effect yesterday.
In the Netherlands, the Health Council also recommended that everyone over the age of 18 be given a booster shot. That is also what the outgoing cabinet wants. The elderly should be given the extra vaccination first. The Health Council recommends an extra shot, because the protection of the vaccines decreases over time.
What do we know about the timeline?
The new European directive is due to come into effect on January 10 next year. This means that travelers who received their last shot before April 10, 2021 will no longer have a valid EU corona pass from that date. In the Netherlands, 923,000 people had their second shot before April 10, 2020, mainly healthcare workers and people over 70.
Then to the month of February. In that month the European pass ‘expires’ for everyone who has been fully vaccinated before May 10. That was 1.6 million people in the Netherlands, mainly people over 60. According to the planning of the GGD, all people over 60 received their booster before mid-February. The new policy will probably not pose any problems for that group.
But for the group that comes next, things get more exciting. From April 27, 2021, it was the turn of people under 60 for their first shot. The GGD says all people under 60 can take booster injections in 13 weeks – that would mean that the Netherlands will have finished putting the boosters at the end of May. In principle, this would be in time for anyone who has had their second shot from about June, but that will depend on your age. Some people also had doubts and only went in August, for example.
In short: the people who have been vaccinated the earliest are affected first when they want to go abroad within the European Union. On the other hand, they do get priority with the distribution of the boosters.
Why is the Commission making this proposal?
The proposal is a response to the growing desire of countries to include booster shots in the corona passport, now that the number of corona infections in Europe has risen sharply again.
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis in particular recently urged that the validity of the European corona pass be limited to six months after the last shot. ECDC, the European equivalent of RIVM, had also recommended a six-month term, but the Commission ultimately came up with a nine-month term.
A number of countries have already presented proposals or new rules to limit the validity of the pass. France, for example, will soon make the booster mandatory to keep the health pass. The rule will initially only apply to people over 65, later it will apply to all adults.
What are the consequences for Janssen sticks?
Anyone who has been vaccinated with Janssen has only had one shot and was therefore fully vaccinated before. The first Janssen shots were administered to healthcare staff at the end of April 2021, after which it was the turn of people born in the 60s/70s. But from the end of June this year, all adults could sign up for a shot with Janssen. It is difficult to say which age groups ultimately received the vaccine. Presumably many young people have received the Janssen shot.