EU May Introduce 9-Month Expiration on Covid Vaccine Passports

Covid vaccine certificates could soon have a nine-month expiration date in Europe. 

The current vaccine certificates allow tourists to travel, proving that they either had a vaccine, recently recovered from the virus, or took a very recent PCR test and tested negative. The European Union’s executive arm, the European Commission, proposed that the EU Digital Covid Certificates should have to be updated. 

The proposal says that the vaccine passports should be able to last for nine months, but after that, expire. The nine month period would begin following either the second of a two-shot vaccine, such as Pfizer or Moderna, or after the single-shot vaccine, like Johnson & Johnson’s. Those advocating for the new expiration date have said that vaccine passports will expire as immunity wanes. 

The recommendation does not specifically discuss yet the booster shots, but it is expected that the recommendation will soon address specifically those with booster shots. Boosters are becoming more and more common across the U.S. and the United Kingdom. 

This week, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control said that all adults in Europe should receive a booster shot of the vaccine, and priority for it should be given to anyone over the age of 40. 

Advocates for introducing expiration dates for vaccine passports said that travel rules need to take into account the fact that the pandemic is not yet over. 

The discussion comes as a fourth wave of Covid sweeps across parts of the world. In Europe, those with high Covid rates tend to be countries with low vaccination rates. 

This week, the World Health Organization warned that the death toll from Covid in the European region could exceed 2 million by March 2022. WHO has labeled the spike in cases as “very serious.” 

Adding to the fear of international travel is a new strain found in South Africa. Labeled B.1.1529 until it gets a colloquial name under a Greek letter like the previous strains, the latest variant carries an unusual amount of mutations. 

South African Health Minister Joe Phaahla said that they had hoped the country would have more time between waves of the pandemic, and that the fourth wave would have held off until at least late December, or even January of next year. Unfortunately, it is feared that the fourth wave is now upon South Africa, and that its mutation will make this wave even worse.

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