European Union residents will need to have Covid-19 vaccine booster jabs if they want to travel to another country in the bloc next summer free of tests or quarantines, the European Commission proposed yesterday.
The EU executive also proposed accepting all vaccines approved by the World Health Organisation for travel purposes, which would allow non-essential travel to the EU from outside the bloc for people vaccinated with Chinese shots and vaccines made in India.
The commission wants to harmonise rules across the 27 EU nations to allow free movement, but is facing new restrictions as cases break records in Europe and many EU countries roll out booster doses.
It made its proposals as Europe again became the centre of the Covid-19 pandemic, even after successful vaccination campaigns, prompting some countries to consider new curbs on movement as the continent heads into winter.
EU governments, which will need to approve the Commission recommendation, kicked off debate on the topic on Tuesday. Greece proposed on Wednesday that people should in future be able to travel freely if they have received a dose in the previous six months.
Accepting that immunity wanes, the executive commission is proposing that people should be considered covered if the final dose of their primary vaccination was within the last nine months, and that this update should apply from January 10.
Given most EU residents who were vaccinated received their final doses in the second and third quarters of 2021, their coverage would mostly expire by the middle of next year.
EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides said the current vaccination coverage was 65pc of the EU population.
“For everyone to travel and live as safely as possible, we need to reach significantly higher vaccination rates urgently. We also need to reinforce our immunity with booster vaccines,” she said.