BRUSSELS – Only people who have received booster shots can be considered fully vaccinated, according to the new recommendations of the European Commission.
The EU executive body revealed on Thursday its updates for the COVID-19 certificate granting free travel within the bloc, and advised nine-month validity for the pass since the primary vaccination series, according to Anadolu Agency.
“In today’s recommendation, we are clarifying the fact that a person who has received a booster jab after the first set of vaccinations should be considered to be fully vaccinated,” EU Commissioner for Justice Didier Reynders told reporters.
He explained that the decision was based on the scientific opinion of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) which confirmed that the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines decreased after six months.
The nine-month validity period for COVID certificates allows extra three months for national authorities to administer the booster doses, it reported Reynders added.
The announcement came a day after Andrea Ammon, the head of the ECDC, warned that the coronavirus situation would deteriorate in the next two months unless the bloc introduces new measures and raises the vaccination rate.
In a separate video statement, Anadolu Agency also reported that EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen called on EU citizens to take their booster shots six months after the original vaccination.
“Boosters give us an even higher level of protection than the original vaccination. They will prevent many hospitalizations and deaths,” she said.
Von der Leyen also announced that the bloc would have one billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines delivered by the end of the week.
The COVID-19 certificate was originally issued by the EU to facilitate free travel within the bloc, but it is also used as a pass to grant access to restaurants, cultural venues, and even public transport in some EU member states.
The document features a QR-code that helps authorities to determine the holder’s COVID status.
The certificate proves if a person had received all the recommended doses of a vaccine approved by the European Medicine Agency, had a negative PCR-test over the past 72 hours, or recovered from the disease over the last six months, the report said.
The European Commission’s recommendation on travel with the COVID pass is not legally binding for the EU governments, they can impose restrictions on travelers from other member states based on the epidemiological situation, it added.