900,000 people in Austria risk their Covid passes becoming invalid in February

A shortening to the length of time that vaccine passes remain valid in Austria means that up to 900,000 people need to get a booster dose registered by the end of the month to be able to keep using their pass.

Covid vaccine
Affected residents will need to get a booster dose to continue using their vaccine pass in Austria. Photo: Joe Klamar/AFP

As of February 1st, vaccination certificates will only be valid for six months after the second dose, the government announced last week.

After that, people will need a third dose in order to keep using Austria’s Green Pass or an analogue equivalent. From the third dose, vaccination proof remains valid for nine months. 

A total of around 897,000 vaccine passes in Austria are currently set to lose their validity at that point if their holders do not get the booster shot in time, the Health Ministry told Salzburger Nachrichten.

“We assume, however, that by then many more people will get their booster vaccination,” the ministry told Austrian press agency APA. The spokesperson said that an information campaign was planned for the next few weeks so that “nobody should be surprised” by the rule change in February.

This applies for the so-called 2G rule domestically in Austria. People without either valid vaccination proof, or a medically confirmed recovery from the virus in the past 180 days, are currently under lockdown meaning they should only leave their homes for certain permitted purposes such as exercise or buying food.

Restaurants, hotels, businesses like hairdressers and as of January 11th all non-essential retail businesses, carry out checks of customers’ 2G proof.

The change does not currently affect travel rules, meaning proof of vaccination with a second dose no older than six months is still considered as 2G for the purposes of entering Austria (though if you have not received a booster dose you generally need a negative PCR test to enter — exact rules vary depending on purpose of travel and where you are travelling from).

In Austria, it is possible to get a booster dose from four months after the date of your second vaccine.

Despite a sluggish overall vaccination rate, Austria is well ahead of the EU average when it comes to administering booster doses and ahead of all its immediate neighbours on this metric, with 43.1 percent of the population having received the additional protective vaccine according to Our World in Data.

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