As the COVID-19 travel landscape continues to evolve and shift in real-time, some European countries are setting vaccine expiration dates for travel. This move comes as another means of staving off the spread of the highly transmissible delta variant, which is the dominant strain of the coronavirus cases reported in the United States.
Croatia and Austria have both announced a 270-day expiration date for accepted vaccines, or about nine months. Any travelers that plan to enter either country with valid proof of vaccination must show that fewer than 270 days have passed since their second dose.
There's no word yet if other countries will join Croatia and Austria in implementing vaccine expiration dates for travelers from abroad.
To enter Croatia, visitors must show either proof of vaccination or a negative test, taken within 72 hours of travel in the case of a PCR or 48 hours in the case of an antigen test. This allows them to enter Croatia and bypass the quarantine requirements. Alternately, travelers can also show proof they contracted COVID-19 and have subsequently recovered. Finally, accommodation arrangements must be pre-paid and demonstrated upon arrival.
Austria's entry requirements are similar to Croatia's. Children under the age of 12 are exempt from testing; proof of pre-paid accommodation isn't necessary either.
These new measures will surely make international travel a little more complicated in the coming months. Despite being fully vaccinated and testing negative, travelers might find themselves unable to enter a country if it's been too long since their second dose. However, it's still too soon to tell how the rest of the world will incorporate the issue of vaccine expiration dates for travel or not.
The decision comes at a time when the debate around COVID-19 booster shots and when and how they should be administered. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the rise of the delta variant has caused vaccine efficacy to drop from 84% to 39%. However – and perhaps more importantly – efficacy against hospitalization due to disease remains between 75% and 95%.
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