COVID-19: EU recommends 9-month limit on vaccine validity for travel

The recommendation comes as Europe experiences a massive spike in COVID-19 cases. 

A European Union flag flies outside the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, December 19, 2019. (photo credit: REUTERS/YVES HERMAN)
A European Union flag flies outside the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, December 19, 2019.
(photo credit: REUTERS/YVES HERMAN)

The European Commission will recommend on Thursday that COVID-19 vaccination certificates last for nine months after full vaccination, an EU official told Reuters.

The decision was made after a long discussion about whether the validity of the certificates should last eight or nine months. People who get a booster shot will have the validity of their certificates automatically extended, the source said.

The recommendation is not binding but is expected to help foster a uniform approach across EU states.

The news came at a time when the EU's public health agency European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) suggested that COVID-19 vaccine boosters should be considered for all adults, in a major change to the agency's guidance.

On Wednesday, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis also suggested that the EU make COVID booster shots a condition for travel across the bloc.

 Empty Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine vials for children aged 5-11 are seen in Collegeville, Pennsylvania, US, November 6, 2021. (credit: REUTERS/HANNAH BEIER) Empty Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine vials for children aged 5-11 are seen in Collegeville, Pennsylvania, US, November 6, 2021. (credit: REUTERS/HANNAH BEIER)

The recommendation comes as Europe experiences a massive spike in COVID-19 cases. 

In early November, Germany saw record levels of COVID-19 as cases rose at an alarming rate.

“Immunity will be reached,” German Health Minister Jens Spahn said at a Berlin news conference, according to The New York Times. “The question is whether it’s via vaccination or infection, and we explicitly recommend the path via vaccination.”

He further warned that, by winter, “just about everyone in Germany will probably be either vaccinated, recovered or dead.”

On Monday, Austria went into full lockdown, the BBC reported, after previously instituting a lockdown for those unvaccinated aganst the coronavirus.