According to a proposal set to be published by the European Commission, residents of the European Union will need COVID-19 vaccine booster shots if they want to travel to another country in the bloc next summer.
The European Commission aims to harmonise rules across the EU's 27 member states to facilitate free movement, but it's running into new roadblocks as cases hit new highs in Europe and many EU countries roll out booster doses.
On Tuesday, EU governments, which must approve the Commission's recommendation, began debating the issue. People who have received a dose within the last six months should be able to travel freely in the future, according to Greece.
Accepting that immunity fades over time, the European Commission is suggesting that people be considered covered if their most recent dose was within the last nine months, according to an EU official.
Given that the majority of EU residents who were vaccinated received their final doses in the second and third quarters of 2021, their protection would expire by the middle of next year.
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) recommended vaccine boosters for all adults on Wednesday, with a focus on those over 40, shifting from its previous guidelines that suggested extra doses for the elderly and those with weakened immune systems.
Cross-border travel restrictions have been eased thanks to EU coordination on COVID passes, which show if a person is completely vaccinated, has a recent negative test, or has recovered from infection.
Individual countries issue the passes, which are primarily seen on mobile devices, although they are recognised across the bloc. They are increasingly being used for access to indoor areas such as restaurants and theatres in many EU countries.