Boris Johnson’s press conference on 4 January updated the public on the UK Government’s response to the Omicron variant of Covid-19, and he made a series of comments encouraging people to get a booster vaccination.
He suggested that in coming weeks it is likely people will require booster jabs in order to travel to other countries, and that to travel to some countries you already need a booster to be considered fully vaccinated.
Ferret Fact Service looked at this claim and found it Half True.
The number of people in the UK who have received the Covid-19 vaccine booster is 34,586,810 as of 4 January 2022.
There is clear evidence that the booster vaccine helps to mitigate the effects of the Omicron variant, and gives people longer lasting protection from Covid-19.
As the Omicron variant has become the dominant strain of Covid-19 in countries across the world, many have altered their entry requirements to slow its spread.
Different countries have their own separate entry rules, but most now require travellers to have a recent PCR test or proof of vaccination.
No country has announced that a booster is strictly required to enter the country as yet. However, some countries have begun to include the booster as part of their wider entry criteria as the effectiveness of the first two vaccines wanes.
France has announced that travel from the UK can only be done for essential reasons, and its government announced in December 2021 that over 65s would require boosters to many indoor venues. However travellers to France will still not require boosters for entry.
Kuwait has also brought in rules including the booster vaccine. Travellers to the gulf state will require a booster jab if their previous vaccination was more than nine months ago. Those with just two doses will still be allowed into the country if their vaccine was within this time period.
Similar action is being taken by the Netherlands from the beginning of February 2022. They will shorten the amount of time that someone is considered fully vaccinated to nine months.
This is in line with the EU Vaccination Certificate, which will be valid for just 270 days after a person’s last dose of a Covid-19 vaccine. Countries within the EU will be obliged to adopt the nine-month validity.
Austria, which has struggled with vaccine uptake among its population, has put in place strict travel measures in its battle against the virus. Particularly stringent are the rules for UK travellers and other so-called “virus variant countries”, who must show they have been vaccinated including a booster or twice if they have previously recovered from Covid-19 as they are likely to have increased immunity.
Those who only have two vaccinations are required to isolate for ten days when they enter the country.
A number of other countries have indicated they will be bringing in similar measures including Croatia, Greece and Switzerland.
Ferret Fact Service verdict: Half True
Boris Johnson’s claim that you already need a booster vaccine to travel to some countries is not quite accurate. There are some countries which have included the booster as part of their entry rules, either by making the third jab required after a certain time, or requiring it to avoid a spell in isolation after you arrive in the country. Austria’s booster rules mean those without a third dose are required to isolate, but they are not strictly necessary for travel.
All the sources used in our checks are publicly available and the FFS fact-checking methodology can be viewed here.
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