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COVID-19

Can foreigners get Covid-19 booster shots in Switzerland?

People from abroad have tried to get their coronavirus shots in Switzerland. Is this allowed under Swiss law?

Can foreigners get Covid-19 booster shots in Switzerland?
Some people from abroad have tried to get vaccinated in Switzerland. Photo by AFP

With Switzerland’s vaccine timetable ahead of some other European countries, some foreigners have tried to come to Switzerland to get vaccinated. 

The only foreign residents allowed to get their shots in Switzerland are cross-border employees who have Swiss health insurance.

Therefore, unless you have Swiss health insurance, you are ineligible to be vaccinated in Switzerland. 

READ MORE: Reader question: Can cross-border workers get vaccinated in Switzerland?

Foreign healthcare workers who are in contact with patients in Swiss hospitals can also get their vaccine in Switzerland, even without Swiss insurance.

Foreigners try to get vaccinated in Geneva

Early in the pandemic, some foreigners came in groups to get their shots in Geneva.

The cantonal vaccine platform can’t detect fraudulent information, so some ineligible foreigners get through, though many are turned away when they arrive for their appointment and have to show their ID and proof of Swiss insurance.

Paoliello said that a busload of people from Italy was turned away from one of the canton’s vaccination centres before they could get their shots.

“Vaccination tourism is not acceptable”, Paoliello said in an interview.

But some fraudsters do fall between the cracks.

For instance, two people from Italy whose children are based in Geneva, managed to get their vaccines.

“They should have been turned away”, Paoliello noted, adding that cheaters “will be billed for the vaccine retroactively”.

The shot is free for Swiss residents, cross-border workers, and qualifying health personnel.

What about vaccinating people from other cantons?

The Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) says that residents “are free to get vaccinated wherever we want. The vaccination is independent of the place of residence but if possible the two doses should be administered at the same place so that the second dose can be reserved”. 

However, in reality this guideline is often not followed, with patients coming from other cantons being told they should get inoculated in their place of residence.

The reason is that vaccine doses are currently in short supply in Switzerland due to delivery delays.

As each canton receives the number of doses in proportion to their population, local health authorities are reluctant to vaccinate those coming from outside their territory.

Paoliello noted that a number of people “engage in inter-cantonal vaccine tourism,” registering in two or more cantons simultaneously to boost their chances of getting the shot.

“We are at the limit, which calls for the individual and moral responsibility”, he said.

READ MORE:  Switzerland lines up fourth Covid-19 vaccine to help tackle pandemic

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COVID-19 VACCINES

Covid boosters not available in Switzerland until autumn

The Swiss government will not make second Covid boosters available until autumn, saying those who are currently fully vaccinated face a low risk of contracting the virus.

Covid boosters not available in Switzerland until autumn

The Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) announced on Tuesday that second Covid booster shots for general population will be available in the fall, “when the risk for individuals and the burden on the healthcare system will be greatest”.

While Switzerland had a widespread booster shot campaign against Covid, the government has been reluctant to approve second boosters other than for those in vulnerable categories. 

Right now, those with a weakened immune system and people over the age of 80 are the only ones eligible. 

People not in those risk groups who want a second booster will need to pay out of pocket for the jab. 

This may be people who feel they are in a risk group but are not included in the government’s list, or those who need a booster for travelling abroad. 

People who are travelling to countries where proof of up-to-date immunisation is required but whose Covid certificates are no longer valid, can receive the fourth dose but upon request have to pay for the shot.

Previously, all Covid boosters have been free for Swiss citizens and residents, with the government electing to cover the costs. 

How much will a Covid booster for travel cost? 

While the federal government previously covered the costs of the vaccines, it is now up to individual vaccination centres to set a price for a second booster. 

A spokesperson from the FOPH told The Local on Wednesday that the cost tends to be around CHF60 across much of the country. 

Please keep in mind that this cost only relates to second booster shots for those not in vulnerable categories. For those wanting their first booster – or indeed their first or second shot of the vaccine – the government will continue to cover the costs. 

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