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18 months: Will Switzerland extend the validity of the Covid certificate?

Swiss Health Ministry proposed to prolong the certificate’s validity by six more months to 18 months in total, but there are certain conditions.

Now valid for a year, Covid certificates in Switzerland could be extended for six more months.
Swiss Covid certificates could be extended from 12 to 18 months. Photo by Andreas SOLARO / AFP

Currently, the certificates are valid for 12 months from the date of the second injection.

But Health Minister Alain Berset said on Monday it could be extended to 18 months.

The extension is necessary, he said, because first vaccines were administered in Switzerland at the end of December 2020, so those certificates will soon expire.

However, while the extended certificates would be valid for use in Switzerland, “it is not yet clear whether other countries would accept such an extension”, Berset noted.

Each nation decides autonomously what the period of validity of its certificates should be, but Berset said that if Switzerland has proof of vaccines’ protection beyond 12 months, the Federal Council will negotiate to have longer validity recognised internationally.

At present, only Israel requires a third dose of Covid vaccine to enter the country if the second injection or recovery is more than six months old.

Switzerland’s position is that the two vaccines administered in the country — Pfizer and Moderna — protect against coronavirus for more than a year.

“We don’t see any reduction in protection at this time”, said Virginie Masserey, head of infection control section at the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH).

This is the case for general population. Those with weakened immune systems, as well as people over 65 years of age, will however be offered booster shots from mid-November. Their certificates will then be extended for another 12 months from the date of the third dose.

READ MORE: Covid booster vaccinations in Switzerland: What you need to know

The government is also considering whether to extend the period of validity for certificates issued so far to people who recovered from Covid (who were tested with a PCR test) from six months to a year.

“However, as recovery certificates are valid for only 180 days in the EU, this extended certificate would only be for use in Switzerland”, FOPH said.

Authorities are also looking into the possibility of issuing certificates, valid for 90 days, to anyone who can present a current positive antibody or serology test.

READ MORE: Will Switzerland introduce antibody testing for Covid certificate?

The decision will be made in the middle of November.

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What will Switzerland do about the ‘millions’ of expiring Covid certificates?

In the coming months, millions of Covid certificates are set to expire in Switzerland. What will the government do about it?

What will Switzerland do about the ‘millions’ of expiring Covid certificates?

As certificates are valid for nine months after the second vaccine dose or a booster, “millions of Swiss Covid certificates will expire by autumn at the latest”, according to Swiss news outlet 20 Minutes.

As many Swiss received their most recent shot in late 2021, the nine-month period will soon be coming to an end. 

Although this is not a problem domestically as proof of vaccination is no longer required in Switzerland, it may pose issues for travel. 

Since many countries still require a vaccination certificate for entry, and as the second round of boosters is not yet available in Switzerland,  this means that a large number of people may not be able to travel abroad.

And while other countries have already started to administer second booster shots, Swiss health authorities are dragging their feet, not having even issued a recommendation for the fourth dose yet.

This worries some MPs, who are calling on the government to make second boosters available soonest possible.

“The past has shown that cantons are not always sufficiently prepared. Something like this mustn’t happen again”, said MP Fabian Molina, adding that anyone travelling abroad should be able to be re-vaccinated if they wish. 

Another deputy, Yvonne Feri, noted that the federal government and the cantons have to prepare to vaccinate again within a short period of time.

READ MORE: Reader question: When will Switzerland roll out second Covid boosters?