Iceland has become the most recent Schengen Area member country to announce that starting from January 15, it will recognize as valid only the vaccination certificates issued in the last nine months, and not those older.
This means that those who have received the final COVID-19 shot before the last nine months will need to have a booster shot in order to have their vaccination recognized. Those who do not have the booster shot will have to test for COVID-19 in several cases, including when travelling to the country.
“From January 15 vaccination certificates will be valid for nine months instead of 12 months,” the Icelandic Ministry of Health, Ministry of Justice, and Ministry for Foreign Affairs noted in a joint press release issued on January 7, following a meeting of the government’s cabinet earlier this week.
The decision follows a recommendation of the European Union’s Commission issued on December 21, according to which an EU Vaccination Certificate should be valid for a period of 270 days after the final shot of a COVID-19 vaccine.
The recommendation is based on data and guidance by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, which recommends that booster shots should be administered at the latest six months after the administration of the two first doses.
“The Certificate will remain valid for a grace period of an additional three months beyond those six months to ensure that national vaccination campaigns can adjust and citizens will have access to booster doses,” the Commission notes.
Several EU and Schengen Area countries have already announced the dates from when they apply the new rules on the validity of vaccination certificates.
In the Netherlands, vaccination certificates will be valid for only nine months starting from February 1. All other vaccine passports older than nine months will not be accepted for entry into the country, the Dutch authorities have warned.
From the same date, Latvia will also set the limit of vaccine certificates’ validity at 270 days too, for two-dose vaccines. Those vaccinated with single-dose vaccines will have to take a booster shot after five months in order for their vaccination status to remain valid in Latvia.
“It has been locked that the seven-month certificate will apply to all ages, so that if someone has not received the booster shot in the seven-month window, he or she will be considered unvaccinated,” the Greek Health Minister Thanos Plevris said in an interview with SKAI TV on Wednesday.