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Reader question: Can cross-border workers get vaccinated in Switzerland?

Readers have been asking questions about Switzerland's vaccine rollout including whether cross-border workers can get the injection and whether you have to get it in the canton where you live?

Reader question: Can cross-border workers get vaccinated in Switzerland?

Cross-border workers are an essential component of Switzerland’s economy. 

In 2019, an estimated 325,000 people crossed the border into Switzerland every day to work – 177,000 from France, 76,000 from Italy and 60,000 from Germany.

While cross-border workers may live in neighbouring countries, many have health insurance which is tied to their Swiss employer. 

With different countries rolling out their vaccination programs at different times, readers have asked if they can get the vaccine in Switzerland – or if they can chose where to get vaccinated. 

Can cross-border workers get vaccinated in Switzerland? 

Cross-border workers can get vaccinated for the coronavirus in Switzerland.

This will however depend on their health insurance. 

Cross-border workers covered by Swiss health insurance can be vaccinated in Switzerland, according to the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH).

Anyone in this category will have the costs covered by their health insurance provider, the Swiss government and the cantons. 

Also those who don’t have Swiss insurance coverage but are employed in the healthcare sector where they are in direct contact with patients can get their shots in Switzerland.

The government defines ‘healthcare sector workers’ as those “with patient contact and care personnel in nursing and old people’s homes”. 

In mid-August, the Federal Council said it would grant access to vaccination to people “with a close link with Switzerland”, including all uninsured cross-border commuters, “since they are regularly in Switzerland and may influence the evolution of the pandemic”.

Inoculation would also be extended to Swiss citizens living abroad and their immediate families — even if they don’t have health insurance in Switzerland. 

Some industries and regions rely much more heavily on cross-border workers – known as frontaliers in French, Grenzgänger in German and frontalieri in Italian – than others. They represent one third of the workforce in some cantons. In Geneva some 60 percent of the city’s health workers live in France.

In the canton of Ticino, one in five healthcare workers lives over the border in Italy – approximately 4,000 people. Ticino’s population swells from approximately 360,000 people to 440,000 during an average work day due to cross-border workers from Italy.

What if I my insurance is not Swiss and I do not work in health care – where should I get vaccinated? 

Those who don’t fall under either of the two categories should be vaccinated in their home countries, with the cost liability for the vaccination to be borne out by their home health insurance provider. 

Foreign nationals living in Switzerland can also get a vaccine on the same terms as Swiss nationals, meaning it will be free of charge and there will be no priority for Swiss citizens over legal Swiss residents. 

Similarly, Swiss residents are free to be vaccinated in the canton of their choice. 



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Covid boosters not available in Switzerland until autumn

The Swiss government will not make second Covid boosters available until autumn, saying those who are currently fully vaccinated face a low risk of contracting the virus.

Covid boosters not available in Switzerland until autumn

The Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) announced on Tuesday that second Covid booster shots for general population will be available in the fall, “when the risk for individuals and the burden on the healthcare system will be greatest”.

While Switzerland had a widespread booster shot campaign against Covid, the government has been reluctant to approve second boosters other than for those in vulnerable categories. 

Right now, those with a weakened immune system and people over the age of 80 are the only ones eligible. 

People not in those risk groups who want a second booster will need to pay out of pocket for the jab. 

This may be people who feel they are in a risk group but are not included in the government’s list, or those who need a booster for travelling abroad. 

People who are travelling to countries where proof of up-to-date immunisation is required but whose Covid certificates are no longer valid, can receive the fourth dose but upon request have to pay for the shot.

Previously, all Covid boosters have been free for Swiss citizens and residents, with the government electing to cover the costs. 

How much will a Covid booster for travel cost? 

While the federal government previously covered the costs of the vaccines, it is now up to individual vaccination centres to set a price for a second booster. 

A spokesperson from the FOPH told The Local on Wednesday that the cost tends to be around CHF60 across much of the country. 

Please keep in mind that this cost only relates to second booster shots for those not in vulnerable categories. For those wanting their first booster – or indeed their first or second shot of the vaccine – the government will continue to cover the costs.