a body of water with a city and mountains

If you thought getting vaccinated meant unlocking the world again, think again. It did, kind of, but only for enough time to figure out that it wasn’t “enough”.

Already, many countries are looking to require a “booster” to be eligible to bypass any quarantine or travel restrictions, switching from a binary system of “vaccinated or not”, to a date based system, which validates people on a variety of factors.

Basically, there’s a clock on your travel eligibility, and it will keep changing.

If you’ve got any upcoming travel plans, here’s what you need to know about boosters and how they may impact trips going forward, particularly into 2022.

a passport with a eagle on it

Countries Want Boosters

Israel is opening next week, but only to fully vaccinated people, and within that set, only people who received their final dose within the last 6 months. That’s correct, if you were vaccinated 7 months ago, Israel no longer considers you fully vaccinated.

Austria, Croatia and Switzerland have already set, or are intending to set validity dates for vaccinations, most of which require people to have received a dose within 9-12 months of arrival, to be considered fully vaccinated.

Switzerland already counts someone as vaccinated based on a 12 month calendar from the final dose.

The long and the short of it, is that many countries are preparing to add language to their travel entry policies which state a booster will be required to enter, largely from 2022 onward. You’ll need at least a booster dose within the last 12 months to be valid.

For some countries, such requirements are already in place.

Boosters Will Unlock Travel, For Now

The great hope was that getting vaccinated would permanently unlock travel on a binary basis. You either are, and can, or you aren’t and cannot — at least not without any extra hoops. It doesn’t look like that’s going to stick.

Science now clearly shows decreasing efficacy with vaccines after 6 months, and until case counts are in orders of magnitude where health officials want them, a continual dose of boosters may be required for travel.

Much like flu vaccines, covid-19 jabs may become an annual pilgrimage.

Some countries may keep things simple and see people as vaccinated or not, in hopes of gaining greater visitor share, but many will opt for new goal posts based on dates of vaccination and number of doses.

If you have travel plans in the future, try to schedule any required boosters around these plans, allowing at least 14 days after the booster dose before travel, and ideally no more than 6 months to pass from the date you received the booster, to the date you plan to enter and leave the country you will visit.

By even the most restrictive country protocols, this would keep a visitor in line.

a white building with a bell tower and a flag

A New Headache For Travel Recovery

Make no mistake about it, this is a big headache for the travel recovery. There’s now a continually revolving clock on your “vaccinated” status.

People find international travel prohibitive enough, with uncertainty around forms, proof of vaccination and what happens if you test positive abroad already. Adding math around vaccination dates to the equation is not going to help.

These boosters are undoubtedly necessary for the continued safe climb from global pandemic, to endemic, but anyone hoping to hop across borders in the next year will need to be conscious of booster requirements.

In a growing number of countries, you are no longer simply “vaccinated” or “not”. You need to be up to date, too. Best advice: get those booster appointments while they are readily available.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. This makes all the sense in the world. People wanted outcomes based on science, this is it. Vaccine efficacy begins to fade, that’s why boosters exist. More countries will be adopting this vaccine clock method.

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