People Without Boosters Will Be Barred From Doing This, Starting Tomorrow
Your future plans might be in jeopardy if you haven't gotten an additional shot.
One month into the new year, and yes, we're still dealing with COVID. Omicron cases are falling in the U.S.—with nearly a 20 percent decline this week from last, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)—but numbers are still relatively high. Plus, with a new mutated version of this variant working its way into the picture, experts are warning that this could cause an even slower case decline. This is eerily similar to the Delta and Delta plus situation that occurred last summer and into the fall, which prompted many officials and businesses to adopt vaccine mandates as an effort to reduce case numbers. Now, Omicron and its new mutations are kickstarting a round of restrictions for 2022—but they aren't just being reserved for inside our country.
If you're looking to travel abroad in the coming months, you'll likely need to have your booster shot squared away. Several countries are getting ready to implement booster mandates that will affect U.S. tourists. On Dec. 21, the European Commission, which is the European Union's (EU) executive branch, voted to adopt rules that establish a binding acceptance period of nine months (270 days) for vaccination certifications when traveling between EU countries.
This means starting Feb. 1, anyone who received their initial vaccine dose or doses more than 270 days before traveling to Europe cannot travel between countries in the union unless they have gotten their booster. So if you received your initial vaccination before May 1, 2021 and have not received your additional dose, you're effectively barred from traveling to EU countries. This includes 27 different countries: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, and Sweden.
"As of tomorrow, there will be an EU-wide rule as to how long vaccination certificates for the primary series must be accepted when used in the context of cross-border travel. This reflects the waning protection of the vaccine, and underlines the importance of getting a booster shot," Didier Reynders, the European Commissioner for Justice, said in a Jan. 31 statement. "Supported by the experts at the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control and the European Medicines Agency, the Commission will closely monitor whether future adaptations to this rule are needed."
While many European countries have aligned their own mandates to the commission's ruling, others are putting their own, stricter requirements into place to make it harder for non-boosted travelers to enjoy a vacation, Forbes reported. In the Netherlands, travelers from the U.S. have been deemed "very high risk" by the Dutch government since Dec. 30, meaning you are required to quarantine for 10 days upon arrival, no matter if you're fully vaccinated or not. But on Feb. 2, travelers to the Netherlands who have received a booster can bypass this quarantine, per Forbes.
If you want to dine at restaurants or visit attractions in France, you must obtain a "Pass Vaccinal," according to the U.S. Embassy in France. This pass is only currently being administered to travelers who have been boosted within seven months after receiving the second dose of a two-dose vaccine series. But starting Feb. 15, this timeline is being shortened to just four months after initial vaccination.
And many experts are warning that it's unlikely the restrictions will stop here. So if you're looking to travel somewhere other than Europe for your summer vacations, just know that there is plenty of time for new booster mandates to be put in place in other countries as well.
"We know that being boosted gives you much better protection, both against illness and serious illness. So it's not surprising," David Weber, MD, a professor of medicine, pediatrics and epidemiology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, told USA Today about the new booster travel mandates. "I think this will be an ongoing trend for countries that want to limit transmission."