The European Union is preparing to launch vaccination passports that will allow tourists to freely cross the borders of EU countries. Entry will be allowed for those who have been vaccinated with medications approved in the EU.
At the same time, the EU may expand the list of vaccines allowed for travelling with, that is, we are talking about medications approved by the World Health Organization (WHO). has been figuring out how vaccination passports would work and how Ukrainians would be able to travel across the EU.
Vaccination passports for Europe
According to the EU plan, vaccination passports will enter into force from June 15, 2021. Vaccination certificates will contain the following information:
- date of birth;
- passport number, certified by a QR code;
- the type of vaccine if the person was vaccinated;
- information about whether a person was sick with coronavirus, and the presence of antibodies.
At the same time, the Ukrainian government announced that it was going to issue analogues of European vaccination passports. They will contain all the necessary information required by the EU and WHO.
However, so far there is no final list of requirements for such documents. Nevertheless, the Ministry of Health, together with the Ministry of Digital Transformation, have already developed the appropriate software that will allow obtaining certificates online.
The question of border crossing remains open for those who have not been vaccinated. Deputy Minister of Health Yaroslav Kucher explained that, in addition to passports, the EU can offer other ways that will allow people to cross borders.
It is also unknown whether a coronavirus test will have to be done in order to cross the border if there is no certificate.
What vaccines are recognized in the EU
Four vaccines are currently approved in the EU:
At the same time, the list can be expanded with those vaccines recognized by WHO. This list also includes AstraZeneca vaccines produced in South Korea and India (CoviShield) and used for vaccinations in Ukraine.
The European Commission is not yet considering approving the Russian Sputnik V vaccine.
However, some EU countries that are not part of the Schengen area are free to impose their own border crossing regulations. Thus, Cyprus has canceled quarantine for tourists vaccinated with medications such as:
- Sputnik V;
What vaccines are approved by WHO
WHO, in turn, has approved five medications used to vaccinate against coronavirus:
What vaccines will not allow traveling in Europe
If the European Union approves the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccines produced in India and South Korea, then most Ukrainians will be able to travel to EU countries.
Most of the vaccinations in Ukraine are done with the CoronaVac vaccines of the Chinese company Sinovac Biotech and CoviShield—the Indian analogue of AstraZeneca. Pfizer is also used for vaccinations.
Therefore, if the EU does not allow vaccines approved by the WHO, then only those Ukrainians who are vaccinated with Pfizer will be able to travel.
So far, the EU has not approved either Chinese or Russian vaccines.
Among the popular vaccines that are not allowed travel with, even with a vaccination certificate, there are:
- Indian vaccine CoviShield;
- Russian Sputnik V;
- Indian Covaxin;
- Chinese CoronaVac.
Can vaccines be mixed?
There remains an open question about what to do if the first inoculation against coronavirus has already been given with a vaccine that is not included in the list of approved in the EU. Unfortunately, there is no clear answer yet.
Theoretically, a second vaccine against coronavirus could be done with another medication, but scientists and doctors are not yet unanimous. It is also not known if, after completing vaccination with one medication, it is possible to get vaccinated with another one that is approved in the EU. Those who have had a coronavirus, for example, are not recommended to get vaccinated sooner than six months.
The thing is that vaccines have a different approach to provoking the antibody response of the body. For example, the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is an mRNA vaccine, but the AstraZeneca vaccine is not.
At the same time, AstraZeneca uses adenoviral vector technology similar to Johnson&Johnson.
In general, all vaccines force the body to form an immune response to the coronavirus protein that helps protect a person if the body is exposed to the virus. The difference, however, is how the two vaccines transport these instructions into our cells.
Pfizer uses lipid-coated mRNA to send information to cells, and AstraZeneca uses a weakened version of the common cold virus to do the same.
However, according to Gritstone CEO Andrew Allen, being vaccinated with two different vaccines could give the body more information about the virus.
Gritstone even developed two different vaccines to activate each group: a viral vector vaccine and an mRNA vaccine.
Regulations for entering Schengen Area in 2021
Greece and Cyprus have opened up to tourists. Spain has also opened up for travelers. However, despite the possible relaxation of EU travel rules, Ukrainians still cannot travel freely to the Schengen Area countries.
For Ukrainians, there are still general restrictions for crossing the border of the Schengen Area countries.
For instance, only those Ukrainians can enter such countries who:
- have relatives in the EU;
- are going to study or are already studying in one of the Schengen Area countries;
- are going to work and have the relevant documents.
In addition, a PCR test or vaccination passport must be presented.
For other categories of citizens, the Schengen Area countries remain closed until vaccination passports come into force in Ukraine. In addition, the situation will also depend on the epidemic situation in the country.