Countries locking out millions as fully vaccinated definition ripped up

Australians hoping to jet overseas for a much-anticipated holiday might have to rethink their plans as several countries ban tourists who haven’t had their booster shot.

While Covid-19 vaccines remain effective at preventing severe disease and hospitalisation, numerous studies have confirmed people with just two jabs will have a reduced protection against infection after five to six months.

With more virus variants continuing to emerge two years into the pandemic, Australia's national cabinet is expected to announce a changed definition of "fully vaccinated" to three doses on Thursday, according to Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews.

Countries across the world have urged their citizens to get a booster when they’re able to, with some also imposing strict rules on visitors.

Passengers wear face masks due to Covid as they line up at the Jetstar check in terminal at Sydney Domestic Airport in Sydney.
Australians hoping for a much-needed holiday overseas may have to adjust their plans due to the Covid requirement. Source: AAP

The United Arab Emirates is the first country to ban visitors who haven’t had three Covid vaccines, deeming them not fully-vaccinated.

Travellers who had their last vaccine shot more than seven months ago are not allowed to enter France, with Switzerland and the Netherlands requiring tourists to get a booster within 270 days of their second dose.

From February 1, Spain will require visitors to show proof that they’ve had a booster jab in the last seven months.

In March, Belgium’s vaccine certificates will only be valid for 150 days after the second dose.

After a booster dose, protection against Covid increases to 65-70 per cent but drops down to around 50 per cent after 10 or more weeks, according to a UK Health Security Agency report.

“It is therefore likely that current vaccines offer limited long-term protection against infection or transmission,” the report reads.

Passengers arriving from Melbourne are screened by Covid health workers at the airport in Sydney.
With more virus variants continuing to emerge two years into the Covid pandemic, it appears the definition of fully-vaccinated now includes a third shot. Source: AAP

“Protection against severe disease is much higher – after a booster dose vaccine effectiveness against hospitalisation is estimated at 92 per cent and remains high at 83 per cent 10+ weeks after the booster dose.”

The chief executive of Pfizer has said that it is likely people will need a Covid jab every year going forward.

“Both waning immunity and viral variants will conspire to reduce our protection over time,” Nathan Bartlett, an associate professor at the School of Biomedical Sciences and Pharmacy at the University of Newcastle, wrote in an article for The Conversation last year.

“So we’ll need booster shots, ideally updated to deal with the viral variant that poses the greatest threat.”

The professor said when comparing AstraZeneca and Pfizer, the latter is easier to modify to protect against future variants.

Nurse Anila Shameti prepares a syringe with the Covid vaccine. Source: AAP
National cabinet could announce a changed definition of "fully vaccinated" to three doses, as early as Thursday. Source: AAP

Three dose vaccination definition on the table

National cabinet could announce a changed definition of "fully vaccinated" to three doses, as early as Thursday, the Victorian premier says.

Mr Andrews said a third dose is just as important as a first and second dose.

"This is not a two-dose thing (or) two doses and a bonus – it is absolutely critical and essential," he said ahead of the national cabinet meeting.

"International evidence, our own experience, the views of experts and hopefully confirmation of both ATAGI and national cabinet today will mean everyone knows and understands this is a three-dose project."

When asked directly whether there could be national cabinet agreement of updating the definition to three doses, Mr Andrews said he "certainly hopes so".

"Hopefully we get that confirmation today," he said.

With AAP

Do you have a story tip? Email:

You can also follow us on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and Twitter and download the Yahoo News app from the App Store or Google Play.