As Europe battles a surge in Covid-19 infections, there are plans for booster jabs to become mandatory for anyone traveling in Europe or coming into a European country.
The EU proposed Thursday that anyone looking to travel unrestrictedly–without testing or quarantine–should ensure they have a booster jab within 9 months of the final dose of their original vaccination, as reported by The Guardian.
This means that the validity of the EU Digital Covid Certificate (the EU-wide pass that currently allows free movement of people across borders, into trains and planes and fills the auditoriums and cinemas) will cease after 9 months, unless people get jabbed again.
Crucially, the EU is expected to make this standard for anyone coming into Europe from outside the bloc from a third-party country.
France went one step further Thursday and announced that its health pass, le pass sanitaire, would cease to work for people 7 months after their final dose of the original vaccination. France had already made it mandatory for the over-65 age group to have the booster if they want to keep the pass active and today, the national website to book doctor appointments was flooded with people trying to make bookings, with long wait times.
France has one of the highest vaccination rates in Europe (89.6% of the population aged over 12 years has received at least one dose), but it is also suffering a surge in Covid-19 infection rates, with intensive care admissions up 35% and a 54% increase in deaths–as reported by The Local.
Before these announcements, some EU countries had also announced an expiry date on vaccinations. Switzerland said that vaccinated status will expire after 12 months, Croatia and Austria are currently holding at 270 days and Israeli residents must have had the vaccine in the past 6 months to be indoor in public. Todays’ move by the EU was an attempt to simplify and unify rules across the region.
There are currently big differences between many EU countries in terms of vaccination rates. In comparison to France, for instance, Bulgaria has only vaccinated 24% of its population.
In the U.K., Prime Minister Boris Johnson told a press conference (as reported by The Telegraph) that the country was moving towards boosters as the norm. Johnson said, “I think what the general lesson is from anybody who wants to travel, you can see that getting fully vaccinated with a booster is going to be something that will, on the whole, make your life easier in all kinds of ways, including on foreign travel.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci suggested the same might be true for Americans last week when he said in a pre-taped interview that “a booster isn’t an add-on and a booster is part of what the original regimen should be. So that when we look back on this, we’re going to see that boosters are essential for an optimal vaccine regimen.” The CDC has announced that anyone over the age of 18 in the U.S. is now eligible for a booster shot.