Booster Shot Before You Go? These Countries Have Set A Vaccine ‘Expiry Date’ For Travelers

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Suzanne Rowan Kelleher   Forbes U.S. Staff

Booster Shot Before You Go? These Countries Have Set A Vaccine ‘Expiry Date’ For Travelers

Hallstatt, Austria. Photo: Hasmik Ghazaryan Olson /Unsplash

Considering an international trip for later this year or into 2022? Depending on where you’re going, it may be necessary to schedule your trip around a Covid booster shot.

Amid the rise of the delta variant of the coronavirus and fears that vaccine protection diminishes in time, two European countries have set expiry dates for vaccine certificates based on when a traveler was inoculated. If more nations jump on the bandwagon and this becomes a full-blown trend, it could become necessary for travelers to prove not only if they were vaccinated, but when, adding yet another box for travelers to check when planning international trips.

Last month, Croatia became the first country to set a maximum validity period for Covid-19 vaccine certificates. To enter the Balkan state, travelers must be fully vaccinated within 270 days — roughly nine months — of arrival. Travelers whose vaccine has ‘expired’ must take a PCR test or rapid antigen test upon arrival, at their own expense, and are required to self-isolate until receiving a negative result. If they cannot get tested, travelers must self-isolate for 10 days.

American travelers and others from outside the European Union are required to show a “certificate that they have received two doses of vaccine used in the EU Member States (Pfizer, Moderna, AstaZeneca, Gamaleya, Sinopharm) not older than 270 days, or a certificate that they have received one dose of the vaccine if the vaccine is administered in a single dose (Janssen/Johnson&Johnson) not older than 270 days,” according to the Croatian government website.

Yesterday, Austria announced that its vaccine certificate is also only good for nine months after full vaccination. “You are considered ‘vaccinated’ starting on the 22nd day after your first dose, lasting for 90 days from the vaccination date. After the second dose, the validity extends for another 270 days,” explains the Austrian Tourism website. Vaccines that only require one dose are valid from the 22nd day after that dose and for 270 days from the vaccination date. This also applies to people who have had Covid before and received only one dose of any vaccine.”

That means travelers who received a second Moderna or Pfizer shot in late February 2021 would be able to visit Austria through November 2021 without needing a booster. Travelers who were vaccinated outside the 270-day window would need to show proof of a negative Covid test or a recent recovery from the virus and, they would also have to self-isolate for up to 10 days.

Previously the only rules for vaccination status concerned the acceptable brands of vaccine and the definition of “fully vaccinated” to mean a 14-day window between the final dose and the traveler’s arrival date. 

So far, no other European Union countries have set a vaccine deadline, but travelers should watch this space.

Next month, the Biden administration plans to begin rolling out vaccine booster doses to Americans in all eligible age groups who received their last vaccine dose at least eight months earlier.

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Suzanne Rowan Kelleher   Forbes U.S. Staff

I’m always looking for new ways to travel better, smarter, deeper and cheaper, and spend a lot of time watching trends at the intersection of travel and technology. As a longtime freelance travel writer, I’ve contributed hundreds of articles to Conde Nast Traveler, CNN Travel, Travel + Leisure, Afar, Reader's Digest, TripSavvy, Parade, NBCNews.com, Good Housekeeping, Parents, Parenting, Esquire, Newsweek, The Boston Globe and scores of other outlets.