Fully vaccinated travellers planning a trip to Europe may face a new hurdle: their vaccine’s shelf life might be about to run out, meaning their cover has expired.
Austria and Croatia have already put expiry dates on COVID vaccine certificates, leaving travellers with two choices: either get a booster shot or don’t travel. If you choose to get a booster shot then, you’ll need to supply proof of your vaccination.
It is unclear how many other countries will follow.
Your vaccination certificate will need to clearly show the date you were fully vaccinated. The vaccines accepted in Austria, for instance, are Moderna, Pfizer/BioNTech, Johnson & Johnson, and AstraZeneca.
Last month the Croatian government announced that vaccination certificates will have a maximum validity, meaning overseas arrivals will be required to show proof of two doses of an approved vaccine that are no older than 270 days or around nine months.
Travellers with expired vaccination certificates will be asked to provide a negative PCR test upon arrival and will be asked to self-isolate until they get their result.
A COVID-19 test in Croatia costs approximately $110 USD according to a Croatian government website. Payment can be made in advance using cash or credit card and results will available 24-48 hours after taking the test.
Anyone over the age of 12 who wants to travel to Austria must either show proof of a negative COVID test, or an approved vaccination certificate.
The vaccines approved in Austria are BioNTech/Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, Sinovac, and Sinopharm.
The vaccine certificate is valid for 270 days. Some travellers may still be required to self-isolate on arrival.
If you are not vaccinated, you will be asked to have a PCR which is no older than 72 hours, or a Rapid Antigen Test no older than 48 hours according to the Austrian tourism website.
The Australian Department of Health has not yet set a maximum vaccine validity, however, The Conversation reported that a vaccine similar to AstraZeneca was valid for 12 months.
Queensland Health’s website says that the flu vaccination is generally most effective in the first 3-4 months after the vaccination. The flu shot changes each year, so for the best protection, Australians are offered the opportunity to get vaccinated each year.
It is not yet known if the COVID-19 vaccine will have maximum validity in Australia.
Earlier in the week, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that he supported a vaccine passport and a QR code-style system to verify your vaccination status. Some Australians who are already fully vaccinated can download their vaccination certificate from the Service Australia website.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian also added that the NSW government has already developed technology to allow us to check-in and show our vaccine in one go.
It is not yet known if vaccines will have an expiry date on them in Australia, however, Ms Berejiklian expects COVID-19 vaccinations to be similar to the flu vaccination, where people get vaccinated each year.
“Every year people get a flu shot, or the most vulnerable do. We’re going to have to do that every year, but obviously, it will be normalised. Most people will get it from their workplace or their GP, much in the same way you get your flu shot” she said.