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Covid-19 health pass: Switzerland extends vaccination protection to 12 months

The Swiss government announced on Tuesday it was extending the period of time vaccinated individuals will be considered as protected under the country’s Covid immunity pass scheme from six to twelve months.

Covid-19 health pass: Switzerland extends vaccination protection to 12 months
Swiss Health Minister Alain Berset announces a change in the country's Covid-19 health pass rules. Photo: Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP

The announcement was made by Virginie Masserey from the BAG at a press conference on Tuesday afternoon.

This means that people will be deemed to have immunity to Covid-19 for a 12-month period after their second vaccination, thereby entitling them to various privileges under the country’s Covid-19 health pass scheme. 

READ MORE: What will Switzerland’s Covid-19 pass allow you to do?

The formal changes to back the announcement will be rolled out in the coming weeks. 

Previously, the period of immunity under the health pass for vaccinated individuals had been set at six months.

This had meant that some of the first people who had been vaccinated in Switzerland were set to have their immunity expire under the official immunity card scheme at the same time it was being rolled out 

While this change will impact those who have been vaccinated, those who have recovered from the disease will still be considered to have immunity for six months – i.e. their period of immunity will not be officially extended, the Swiss government indicated in a press conference. 

Experts are split on the duration of Covid protection and immunity which is provided by vaccinations, however the Swiss government is satisfied that vaccinations provide protection for at least 12 months, while minimising the risk of passing on the virus. 

UPDATED: Everything you need to know about the ‘green pass’, Switzerland’s coronavirus immunity card

Otherwise known as a “green card” or “vaccination certificate”, the health pass is a digitalised form of the existing vaccination passport which would entitle holders to certain privileges. 

The Covid-19 certificate – otherwise known as the Covid-19 pass or the green pass – is available in paper and digital form. 

According to the Swiss government, the pass “provides documentary evidence that you have had a COVID-19 vaccination, have had and recovered from the disease or have tested negative”. 

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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.