There’s been an unmistakable trend in travel this year: people are staying closer to home, and there’s reason for that.
Whether it’s renting a cabin in the woods, or taking a short domestic flight, people remain hesitant to cross borders. Even for the fully vaccinated, testing makes people nervous, as do the many unknowns of changing restrictions.
Unfortunately, just as travel is becoming easier for the fully vaccinated, with countries including the USA ending travel bans, and quarantines dropped in most corners of the globe, a new ticking time bomb of a problem is presenting itself.
It’s the trend of “expiration dates” for the vaccinated which make people ineligible for entry into certain countries. For many, it’s an incredibly difficult new issue to navigate and one that’s not easily solved. Already, its impacting future trips.
Countries Are Introducing Vaccination Expiration
Fully vaccinated, but did the good deed more than 6 months ago? You’re already ineligible to visit some countries, with more on the way.
For some, the number is 9 months and for others it’s 12, but a growing list of countries is putting a clock on what counts as fully vaccinated. If you’re not within that window, you are no longer counted as fully vaccinated, and there are many instances where that therefore means ineligible to visit.
With news from the US that Dr. Scott Gottlieb, a key expert in the vaccine movement believes that the pandemic will become endemic in the USA by January, it’s difficult to tell whether this frustrating new trend is temporary, or here to stay for a long time.
Austria is the latest European country to put a clock on your last vaccination dose, and now joins both Croatia and Switzerland in this regard.
The country is banning all unvaccinated visitors aged 12 and up from entry, while simultaneously creating new rules which state that anyone who received their last dose more than 9 months ago is no longer considered fully vaccinated.
To date, Israel is taking the most aggressive approach, considering someone ineligible for entry after just 6 months from their last vaccination dose. Switzerland is leading things in a slightly more realistic direction, using one year validity.
According to The Guardian, the United Kingdom is now also contemplating booster requirements for travel, but weighing the potential negative impacts and overall global picture of “endemic versus pandemic” before jumping on the bandwagon.
Most vaccinations began in early 2021, so most people remain within most vaccination windows now, but already that clock is getting close for some.
That brings the big issue — future trips.
All of this is happening while many remain either ineligible for boosters, or unable to easily secure an appointment on a reasonable time schedule.
For family travel, there is also the issue of unvaccinated children, particularly in countries which have yet to approve vaccination for minors of certain age groups, or may never will.
For people who are 8 months into their vaccination, but can’t get an appointment for 3 months, a trip to Austria during peak winter season is now effectively off the table. The same issue applies for people who require a “cooling off” period before eligibility for a booster.
If booster dates don’t match up with future travel plans, the alternatives of quarantine, additional testing or cancelling aren’t exactly pretty.
Will Others Follow, Or Is This Short Term?
On a planet with hundreds of countries worth seeing, a handful of countries restricting travel isn’t immediately the end of the world. However, the list seems to be growing at a rapid clip.
As noted, experts in many regions believe that with new pills, treatments and greater levels of vaccination, the worst may really be in the rear view by January.
If that’s the case, it’s hard to tell whether it would make sense for more countries to jeopardize any vital economic rebound, if numbers reach figures that put the covid-19 pandemic into the endemic levels of other largely seasonal illnesses.
Only time will tell whether this is a short lived “fad”, or something else.
GSTP Take: What You Can Do
I was fortunate to receive my booster just a few days ago. As soon as my New York Excelsior Pass updates with that nugget of information, I’ll be feeling pretty good, for at least 6 months.
If you currently have trips on the books, getting any required boosters or vaccinations at the first availability is undoubtedly the best way to go. Once it’s done, your clock of worries can finally reset. Well, 14 days later.
If you don’t currently have trips on the books and are in the planning phase, doing a deep dive into the local vaccination booster situation where you are is going to make any planning much easier.
If you can readily find appointments in the coming weeks for a potential trip a few months away, you can book stress free. If that’s not the case, at least you can pivot accordingly.