COVID-19 vaccine pass to expire after 9 months in EU

The European Union is planning to restrict the validity of vaccine recognition to nine months, its executive body said on Tuesday, in efforts to push more people to get booster shots.

The European Commission said in a statement it has adopted "a binding acceptance period of nine months (precisely 270 days) of vaccination certificates for the purposes of intra-EU travel," to come into force from Feb. 1.

The measure, which needs the approval of EU member states to come into effect, comes as the bloc races to get booster jabs into arms under the shadow of the highly infectious omicron variant.

Several EU countries had already announced go-it-alone measures that would soon consider double-jabbed people no longer "fully vaccinated" unless they also got a booster shot.

France, for instance, had said all adults whose second jab was more than six months old would be booted from the national COVID pass – which is part of the EU COVID certificate system – from Jan. 15 unless they could show the third vaccination.

Seven other EU countries – Portugal, Ireland, Cyprus, Latvia, Italy, Greece and Austria – have also brought in emergency measures requiring even vaccinated EU travellers to take pre-departure COVID tests or to quarantine on arrival.