COVID-19 vaccination certificates used for international travel will not be valid after nine months, according to new ruled adopted by the European Commission. The proposals will take effect for the 27 European Union member states beginning Feb. 1.
The validity period is based on guidance from the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control, which recommends that booster doses be administered six months after the completion of the first vaccination cycle.
Beyond the six month period, the certificates will remain valid for an additional three months to give countries time to provide citizens access to booster doses. The Commission urges member states to “take all necessary steps” to make boosters available to population groups whose vaccination certificates are nearing the nine-month expiration.
Mobile apps used to verify the EU Digital COVID Certificate will be modified so that if the date of vaccination is past the 270 day window, the certificate will appear as ‘expired.’
The new rules allow member states to set their own rules for domestic use of the vaccination certificates.
There will be no time limit on the booster dose as the Commission says there is not yet “sufficient data regarding the period of protection.”
The news comes as lockdowns and travel bans spread across Europe and around the world due to the rise in cases attributed to the omicron variant.
“A harmonized validity period for EU Digital COVID Certificate is a necessity for safe free movement and EU level coordination,” said Stella Kyriakides, European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety. “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.”
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 travelers to share their vaccination record when travelling abroad.
“The EU Digital COVID Certificate is a success story. We should keep it that way and adjust to changing circumstances and new knowledge,” Didier Reynders, Commissioner for Justice, added. “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.”