Do you need a booster shot for the Swiss Covid certificate?

You may soon need a booster shot to access restaurants and other indoor venues in Switzerland. Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP
You may soon need a booster shot to access restaurants and other indoor venues in Switzerland. Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP
Rules related to certificates, and Covid-19 in general, are changing quickly in Switzerland. This is what may lie ahead.

Since December 20th, when the 2G rule was enforced in Switzerland, only those who are vaccinated or have recovered from coronavirus within the last four months can access indoor public venues upon showing their Covid certificates.

READ MORE: 2G: Switzerland targets unvaccinated with new Covid measures

This includes people who have had their two shots of the vaccine but not yet the third one. However, this may change soon, as legislators are calling on the Federal Council to make the certificate valid only after a booster dose.

They argue that the current Covid certificate, valid 365 days after the second shot, no longer reflects latest warnings from health experts that Omicron variant may diminish vaccination protection, especially among the elderly and vulnerable group.

“Current data shows that Covid-19 vaccination provides only reduced protection against the Omicron variant. Protection can be increased with a booster”, the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) announced on Tuesday.

Until now, boosters were recommended six months after initial immunisation. But new data “increasingly indicates that protection against infection and disease is significantly lower and declines more rapidly with the Omicron variant than with the Delta variant. Data also shows that a booster vaccination can greatly improve protection against infection by Omicron”, FOPH said.

Switzerland’s Covid-19 Task Force also confirmed the diminishing protection of the vaccination, saying a  third dose increases protection against Delta back to at least 95 percent, and against Omicron to around 60 to 85 percent, at least for a short time.

As a result of these findings, FOPH now recommends a booster dose four months after the second shot, instead of six months recommended previously.

Given the new data, “the Covid certificate is outdated,” said Peter Metzinger, a municipal councilor of Dietikon, Zurich.  

“If the vaccination protection and the virus change, the certificate must also be adapted. It must be updated as soon as possible and have the booster as the new vaccination standard”, he added.

MP Mustafa Atici also supports the idea of ​​making the Covid certificate conditional on the third dose. “According to scientists, the triple vaccination offers the best protection. The booster must quickly become a new benchmark for the certificate”, he said.

A similar measure is already in effect in France. From mid-January, the country’s health pass will be deactivated seven months after the administration of the 2nd dose for all those who have not received a booster in the meantime. The measure is already in effect for people 65 and over, who had access to the third shot earlier.

The government has not yet said whether a booster will be required to get a certificate in Switzerland, but the announcement is expected before the end of the year.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: What is Switzerland’s 2G-Plus rule?

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