BRUSSELS, Nov 25 (Reuters) – 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, according to a proposal set to be announced by the European Commission on Thursday.
The European Commission wants to harmonise rules across the 27 EU nations to allow free movement, a cornerstone of the European Union, but is facing new restrictions as cases break records in Europe and many EU countries roll out booster doses.
EU governments, which will need to approve the Commission recommendation, kicked off debate on the topic on Tuesday. Greece has proposed people should in future be able to travel freely if they have received a dose in the past six months.
Accepting that immunity wanes over time, the executive Commission is proposing that people should be considered covered if their most recent dose was within the last nine months, an EU official told Reuters.
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.
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) on Wednesday recommended vaccine boosters for all adults, with priority for those over 40, in a major shift from its previous guidance which suggested extra doses for older people and those with weakened immune systems.
EU coordination on COVID passes, showing if a holder is fully vaccinated or has a recent negative test or recovery from infection, has allowed an easing of curbs on cross-border travel.
The passes, typically viewed on mobile devices, are issued by individual countries, but are recognised across the bloc. They are now increasingly being deployed in many EU countries for access to indoor areas such as restaurants or theatres.
(Reporting by Sabine Siebold, writing by Philip Blenkinsop, editing by Robin Emmott)
Photo – A passenger walks past a sign for the coronavirus test center at the Dusseldorf International Airport in Dusseldorf, Germany. EPA-EFE/FRIEDEMANN VOGEL