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EUROPEAN COMMISSION

EU vaccine passports must prevent ‘discrimination’: European Commission

Europeans may be able to travel more freely this summer with a proposed new vaccination passport. But the European Commission urges caution and calls for certificates to be free from 'discrimination'.

EU vaccine passports must prevent 'discrimination': European Commission
(Photo by Damien MEYER / AFP)

The so-called “digital green pass” provides proof that a person has been vaccinated – or test results if they haven’t received their doses yet. The plans have been laid in a bid to open up travel and help flailing economies.

“The aim is to gradually enable them to move safely in the European Union or abroad – for work or tourism,” Commission chief, Ursula von der Leyen, tweeted.

However, in a draft document seen by Reuters, any future certificate must be free from discriminating information, such as whether people have been tested or have recovered.

The digital certificates are eagerly awaited by many countries in Europe, who rely on tourism and are hoping for an opening up this summer.

READ ALSO: Italy approves Covid-tested flights from US to Milan

But the European Commission clashed with some countries, including Germany, which claimed that vaccinations are not mandatory nor available to those who want it.

Angela Merkel told German newspaper Allgemeine Zeitung: “First, it must actually be clearly resolved that vaccinated people are no longer infectious.”

“As long as the number of those who have been vaccinated is still so much smaller than the number who are waiting for vaccination, the state should not treat the two groups differently.”

READ ALSO: ‘Green pass’: European Commission to propose EU-wide vaccine passports for summer

President Macron also voiced concerns about the fairness of vaccine passports for young people at a virtual meeting of the member states.

Contained in the draft document, which aims to “facilitate free movement” during the pandemic, is a clause that states proof of vaccination should not discriminate against those who either refuse or are unable to access the doses, according to Reuters.

Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: What does France’s ‘vaccine passport’ trial mean for travel in 2021?

What does this mean for those people who fall into this category? Can they still have a ‘Covid passport?

It’s still not clear and will come down to member states to decide how they enforce such a certificate – whether travel restrictions are lifted for those vaccinated is up to each country.

The news comes as pressure mounts for EU leaders amid criticisms of slow vaccine rollouts – it’s expected more answers come when they will discuss the proposal later in March.

Member comments

  1. It would be wonderful to have access to vaccine, so that we – those of us up sh.&t street – can contribute to the economy again….or at least have access to the Neustarthilfe if we can’t be vaccinated for another 6+ months.

    The situation is fast becoming ridiculous.

    So many people – who receive a monthly salary – are planning their next holidays. They aren’t always following the guidelines because they have nothing to lose (financially) and are selfish (morally).

  2. I respect Macron’s concerns, but my worry is exactly the opposite. I don’t mind seeing a small handful of older people get to move around and go on vacation a few months sooner while I stay at home; after all, the lockdown can be especially hard on them and they have less time to lose. But once most people are vaccinated, then the passport itself is a form a discrimination, and I fear that the few who remain will be marginalized – people like my relatives who have severe allergies and have been advised by medical professionals that it is not safe for them to receive the vaccine. I think we have to step away from the hysteria and remember that a vaccine is meant to establish herd immunity, and that as long as it does, it’s not necessary for every person to be vaccinated. I have travelled extensively in the EU and never once was I asked to prove my history of vaccination against small pox, polio or other diseases much deadlier than COVID19.

  3. Perhaps it would also be a good idea to include prior vaccinations against measles, TB, smallpox etc rather than just Covid-19, on any digital passport. In principle it is a good idea, but needs an element of diplomacy and long-term understanding if it is to really gain traction with the populations of Europe, or anywhere else for that matter.

  4. What about our healthcare privacy? What else can the powers that be demand of us? None of these jabs have been tested long term and we have no way of knowing the long term affects. So many have caused some serious side effects. If you are young and want children, I would be leery of any o9f theses jabs. If you have a history of blood clots in your family, be leery of Astro-Zeneca. I believe all contain aborted fetal tissue. Be informed.

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For members

HEALTH

How do I get a European Health Insurance Card in Austria?

An European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) provides EU residents with access to public healthcare across the bloc. Here’s what you need to know about getting an EHIC in Austria.

How do I get a European Health Insurance Card in Austria?

A big advantage of living in Europe is the ability to travel to so many different countries.

But sometimes accidents or illness can happen while on holiday or a work trip, which can mean an unplanned visit to a doctor.

READ ALSO: Austria recommends 4th Covid vaccine dose for everyone over 12

Thankfully, the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) provides some protection against expensive medical bills in the form of reciprocal healthcare. 

Here’s what you need to know about the EHIC and how to get the card in Austria.

What is an EHIC?

An EHIC is a form of medical insurance cover and replaces the international health insurance voucher (form E111). It is issued free of charge and allows holders to access state-provided medical care while temporarily in another EU country. 

It works on a reciprocal basis through a country’s social security system and care is provided at the same cost as those insured in the country (which means it can be free, in some cases).

This means that if you have an e-card and are insured with one of the public health insurances in Austria, such as ÖGK, for example, you are entitled to the EHIC and to access public health services (to a certain extent) in other countries.

FOR MEMBERS: What is Austria’s e-card and what do you need to know about it?

The EHIC is valid in all 27 EU countries, as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland, Macedonia, Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the UK.

However, the EHIC is not an alternative to comprehensive travel insurance as it doesn’t cover any private healthcare costs, a flight home or lost/stolen property.

Why do I need an EHIC in Austria?

The main advantage of having an EHIC is if you need medical treatment while briefly travelling in another country.

While the coverage is limited to state-provided healthcare, it does mean you will be treated by a doctor and not liable to pay non-resident medical fees.

READ NEXT: How Austria is making it easier for non-EU workers to get residence permits

Austria’s e-card – the national insurance card – is needed for almost all medical procedures. On the back, it contains the EHIC Ecard image: Wikicommons

How do I get an EHIC?

EHICs are issued by the national health country provider of the country where you live. This could be, for example, the ÖGK or SVA, depending on which provider you use in Austria.

In Austria, every e-card (the health insurance card that is used to visit a doctor) already contains an EHIC on the reverse of the card, so there is no need to apply for it separately. 

However, if the data fields on the EHIC on the back of your e-card contains stars (***) instead of personal information such as name and date of birth, further documentation is required to access healthcare in another EU country.

In this case, you need to contact your social security provider in Austria to receive a replacement card before you travel.

The EHIC is only valid on the condition that you are insured or co-insured in Austria.

Useful words 

Social insurance – Sozialversicherung

Travel insurance – Reiseversicherung

Healthcare – Gesundheitspflege

Useful links

European Commission

Austrian social insurance

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