New (European) advice on booster pricks, what are the consequences?

The European Commission wants to link the validity of the European corona pass to booster pricks. With the pass, free travel in the EU is possible without a test. What is the Commission‘s new proposal 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 โ€œcorona passportโ€ must lose its validity nine months after the last vaccination. That will be the new directive in Europe, if at least it is up to the European Commission (EC). The EC wants to make the booster mandatory for a valid corona pass, which allows test-free travel in the European Union. To that end, the Commission presented an opinion yesterday.

In the Netherlands, the Health Council also came up with the advice to give everyone over the age of 18 a booster shot. That is also what the outgoing cabinet wants. Elderly people should get that extra vaccination first. The Health Council advises an extra shot, because the protection of the vaccines decreases over time.

What do we know about the time frame?

The new European directive is due to take effect on 10 January next year. This means that travellers who received their last jab before 10 April 2021 will no longer have a valid EU corona pass from that date. In the Netherlands, 923,000 people have had their second jab before 10 April 2021, mainly healthcare workers and over 70s.

Then to the month of February. In that month, the European pass โ€œexpiresโ€ for everyone who was fully vaccinated before 10 May. That was 1.6 million people in the Netherlands, mostly over 60 s. According to the GGD‘s planning, all over 60s received their booster before mid-February. For that group, the new policy is unlikely to cause any problems.

But for the group that comes next, it’s getting more exciting. As of April 27, 2021, 60 minners were their turn for their first shot. The GGD says it can booster prick all 60 minners in 13 weeks – that would mean that the Netherlands will finish setting the boosters at the end of May. In principle, this would be on time for anyone who has received their second jab from around June, but that depends on your age. Some people also doubted and, for example, only went in August.

In short: the people who have been vaccinated at the earliest are the first to suffer from it if they want to go abroad within the European Union. On the other hand, they do get priority with handing out the boosters.

Why is the Commission coming up with this proposal?

The proposal is in response to the growing desire of countries to include booster pricks in the corona passport, as the number of corona infections in Europe has increased sharply again.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, in particular, recently urged to limit the validity of the European corona pass to six months after the last shot. The ECDC, the European counterpart of the RIVM, had also recommended a period of six months, but the Commission finally reached a term of nine months.

Incidentally, a number of countries have already presented proposals or new rules to limit the validity of the pass. For example, France is soon obliging the booster to maintain the health pass. The rule will first apply only to over 65s, later this applies to all adults.

What are the consequences for Janssen pickers?

Whoever was vaccinated with Janssen has only had one shot and was therefore fully vaccinated before. The first Janssen pricks were put in care staff at the end of April 2021, then people born in the 60/70s came their turn. But from the end of June this year, all adults were able to sign up for a shot with Janssen. What age groups ended up having the vaccine is not good to say. Presumably, many young people have received the Janssen prick.