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TRAVEL NEWS

Reader question: Do I still need to be vaccinated to visit Switzerland?

With the ever-changing rules, it is sometimes not easy to know what’s in and what’s out in regards to Covid restrictions. Here’s an overview of the situation in Switzerland right now.

A Swiss airlines flight lands in Zurich. Photo by Pascal Meier on Unsplash
A Swiss airlines flight lands in Zurich. Photo by Pascal Meier on Unsplash

Please note: the requirement to be vaccinated or show proof of recovery will be scrapped from May 2nd onwards. Click here for more information. 

This question is all the more pertinent because rules that are still in place in other countries may be different from the ones in Switzerland.

And even when focusing only on Swiss requirements, the answer is not univocal.

That’s because whether or not you need to be immunised to enter Switzerland depends on where you are coming from.

European Union / EFTA versus third countries

Prior to February 17th, everyone coming into Switzerland, regardless of country of origin, had to have proof of vaccination or recovery from Covid.

After that date, however, Covid certificate and the obligation to get tested was scrapped for Swiss nationals and permanent residents returning from abroad, as well as for citizens of EU and EFTA nations.

But entry restrictions for third-country nationals remain in force unchanged.

‘Travelcheck’: This tool shows you what you need to enter Switzerland

Only fully vaccinated travellers or those who recovered from Covid within the last 270 days can come to Switzerland from outside Europe, and they must have a valid document to prove it.

The reason is because Switzerland doesn’t have its own entry rules but adheres to those in force in the Schengen area.

“As a Schengen-associated country, Switzerland therefore follows the recommendations of the EU and acts in association with the other Schengen states”, Anne Césard, a spokesperson for the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) told The Local last week. 

You can check current travel regulations for your country here.

A group of people that is exempted from the vaccination requirement, regardless of their countries of origin, are children up to 18 years of age.

READ MORE:  Easter holidays: What to expect if you’re coming to Switzerland

Other exemptions

If you are a refugee, as is currently the case with Ukrainians fleeing their country, you can enter Switzerland without a vaccination certificate or any other pandemic-related measures.

According to recent media reports,  Ukrainian refugees are less covered against Covid, as well as some other infectious diseases like  measles and tuberculosis, than residents of Western European nations.

However, as the special refugee status S granted to Ukrainians by the Swiss government provides them with basic healthcare, they will be able to get immunised  free of charge in Switzerland.

READ MORE: Switzerland’s special ‘S permit’ visa program: What Ukrainians need to know

Please note, a previous version of this article erroneously said entrants from the UK had an exception to the vaccine requirement. This has now been corrected. 

What are The Local Switzerland’s reader questions?

As part of our service to our readers and members, we often answer questions on life in Switzerland via email when people get in touch with us. 

When these have value to the greater Local Switzerland community, we put them together as an article, with ‘reader question’ in the headline. 

All readers of The Local Switzerland can ask a reader question, i.e. you do not need to be a member. If you do find our reporting valuable however, then please consider signing up

You do not need to live in Switzerland to ask a reader question, i.e. you could be coming to Switzerland for a holiday and have a specific question. However, the questions have to be related to Switzerland in some way. 

We will only turn a question into a reader question article where it has value to the broader Local community and where we can answer it.

READ MORE: What are The Local Switzerland’s reader questions?

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For members

COVID-19 VACCINES

Switzerland authorises Moderna vaccine for children over six

Children between the ages of six and 11 will now be able to get a Moderna shot, Swiss health authority said.

Switzerland authorises Moderna vaccine for children over six

Until now only the Pfizer vaccine has been approved in Switzerland for this group, starting at age five.

However, on Friday the country’s drug regulatory body, Swissmedic, gave the green light to start administering Moderna’s vaccine to children over six, who will receive two half doses of 50 micrograms at an interval of four weeks.

Those over 12 and adults are injected the full dose.

The agency said that based on clinical studies, young kids react to the Moderna vaccine much like older children and adults do.

“The most commonly reported side effects such as pain, redness or swelling at the injection site, fatigue, headache, shivering or nausea, were similar to those in adolescents and young adults”. Swissmedic said.

READ MORE: Everything you need to know about Covid vaccines for children in Switzerland

Also, “fever occurred more frequently in children, whereas muscle and joint pains were seen less often than in adolescents or adults. The undesirable effects were generally mild to moderate and lasted for a few days”.

While some parents may be reluctant to vaccinate their children against the coronavirus, health officials say the vaccines are safe. They also argue that in order to achieve herd immunity, all age groups should have their shots.

While the number of Covid infections has dropped significantly in Switzerland in the past two months, epidemiologists are predicting a new outbreak in the fall and winter, when cooler weather drives more people indoors, where the yet-unknown variants will be more transmissible.

READ MORE: How can I get my children vaccinated against Covid in Switzerland?

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