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EUROPEAN COMMISSION

EU vaccine passports must prevent ‘discrimination’: European Commission

Europeans may be able to travel more freely this summer with a proposed new vaccination passport. But the European Commission urges caution and calls for certificates to be free from 'discrimination'.

EU vaccine passports must prevent 'discrimination': European Commission
(Photo by Damien MEYER / AFP)

The so-called “digital green pass” provides proof that a person has been vaccinated – or test results if they haven’t received their doses yet. The plans have been laid in a bid to open up travel and help flailing economies.

“The aim is to gradually enable them to move safely in the European Union or abroad – for work or tourism,” Commission chief, Ursula von der Leyen, tweeted.

However, in a draft document seen by Reuters, any future certificate must be free from discriminating information, such as whether people have been tested or have recovered.

The digital certificates are eagerly awaited by many countries in Europe, who rely on tourism and are hoping for an opening up this summer.

READ ALSO: Italy approves Covid-tested flights from US to Milan

But the European Commission clashed with some countries, including Germany, which claimed that vaccinations are not mandatory nor available to those who want it.

Angela Merkel told German newspaper Allgemeine Zeitung: “First, it must actually be clearly resolved that vaccinated people are no longer infectious.”

“As long as the number of those who have been vaccinated is still so much smaller than the number who are waiting for vaccination, the state should not treat the two groups differently.”

READ ALSO: ‘Green pass’: European Commission to propose EU-wide vaccine passports for summer

President Macron also voiced concerns about the fairness of vaccine passports for young people at a virtual meeting of the member states.

Contained in the draft document, which aims to “facilitate free movement” during the pandemic, is a clause that states proof of vaccination should not discriminate against those who either refuse or are unable to access the doses, according to Reuters.

Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: What does France’s ‘vaccine passport’ trial mean for travel in 2021?

What does this mean for those people who fall into this category? Can they still have a ‘Covid passport?

It’s still not clear and will come down to member states to decide how they enforce such a certificate – whether travel restrictions are lifted for those vaccinated is up to each country.

The news comes as pressure mounts for EU leaders amid criticisms of slow vaccine rollouts – it’s expected more answers come when they will discuss the proposal later in March.

Member comments

  1. It would be wonderful to have access to vaccine, so that we – those of us up sh.&t street – can contribute to the economy again….or at least have access to the Neustarthilfe if we can’t be vaccinated for another 6+ months.

    The situation is fast becoming ridiculous.

    So many people – who receive a monthly salary – are planning their next holidays. They aren’t always following the guidelines because they have nothing to lose (financially) and are selfish (morally).

  2. I respect Macron’s concerns, but my worry is exactly the opposite. I don’t mind seeing a small handful of older people get to move around and go on vacation a few months sooner while I stay at home; after all, the lockdown can be especially hard on them and they have less time to lose. But once most people are vaccinated, then the passport itself is a form a discrimination, and I fear that the few who remain will be marginalized – people like my relatives who have severe allergies and have been advised by medical professionals that it is not safe for them to receive the vaccine. I think we have to step away from the hysteria and remember that a vaccine is meant to establish herd immunity, and that as long as it does, it’s not necessary for every person to be vaccinated. I have travelled extensively in the EU and never once was I asked to prove my history of vaccination against small pox, polio or other diseases much deadlier than COVID19.

  3. Perhaps it would also be a good idea to include prior vaccinations against measles, TB, smallpox etc rather than just Covid-19, on any digital passport. In principle it is a good idea, but needs an element of diplomacy and long-term understanding if it is to really gain traction with the populations of Europe, or anywhere else for that matter.

  4. What about our healthcare privacy? What else can the powers that be demand of us? None of these jabs have been tested long term and we have no way of knowing the long term affects. So many have caused some serious side effects. If you are young and want children, I would be leery of any o9f theses jabs. If you have a history of blood clots in your family, be leery of Astro-Zeneca. I believe all contain aborted fetal tissue. Be informed.

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HEALTH

Reader question: How to get a flu vaccination in Austria?

Austrian doctors and virologists have warned of a particularly strong flu wave this winter and recommend that people get vaccinated. Here's how to get the shot in each province.

Reader question: How to get a flu vaccination in Austria?

Austrian experts have said there would likely be an exceptionally high wave of the flu after hardly any cases were registered in the past two years. The measures against Covid-19 prevented infections with Sars-CoV-2 – and curbed the spread of influenza and other cold viruses.

This is about to change this season as Covid measures were relaxed and airborne viruses spread again, they said.

In principle, the influenza vaccination protects against symptomatic infection for four months: “About 80 percent for H1 viruses, about 50 to 60 percent for H3 strains and 60 to 70 percent for B viruses,” said Monika Redlberger-Fritz, a virologist from Med-Uni Vienna.

READ ALSO: Colds and flu: What to do and say if you get sick in Austria

She added: “But even with vaccine breakthroughs, you are still very well protected against complications, hospitalisations and death.”

Unlike the Covid-19 vaccination, the flu jab is not organised by the federal government but by the respective provinces, which file a report only after the flu season. In every province, the vaccine is free for children, but many ask adults to pay for a fee or get it from their doctors. In Vienna, the flu vaccination is free for everyone.

Here is how to get the vaccine in each province in campaigns carried out with the participation or knowledge of the government – companies and private insurance institutions can also start their own vaccination campaigns.

Vienna

Vienna offers free flu vaccinations for every resident. You can register online with the impfservice.wien or visit one of the centres that accept people without appointments (for example, the Austria Center Vienna). 

All that is necessary is for you to bring a document with your picture and wear an FFP2 mask. If you have an e-card and a vaccination passport, bring those with you as well. There is also a form to fill out, but those are available on-site.  

Lower Austria

The flu vaccine is free for children from six months to 15-years-old, and they can get the shot from established medical specialists. For those who are older, it is possible to receive the vaccination from a registered specialist, company medical service or from their employer, but they may be charged for it.

Residents of elderly and care homes get the vaccination free of charge in the facility where they live.

You can check more about the vaccination with your family doctor and paediatrician.

Upper Austria

Children aged six months to 15 can get the vaccine for free with their general practitioners and paediatricians. However, you may need to get the vaccine components at the pharmacy with a voucher and register with your doctor.

Older people can get the vaccination directly at vaccination sites in their district for €15. Residents of elderly and care homes get the vaccination free of charge in the facility where they live.

Styria

In Styria, children from six months to age 15 get the vaccine for free with paediatricians or public health services of their district authorities.  Older adults can get it from the public health service for €16 or €27 if they are older than 65. 

Residents of elderly and care homes get the vaccination free of charge in the facility where they live.

You can check more about the vaccination with your family doctor and paediatrician.

Carinthia

Children (from six months to 15 years) can get the vaccine for free in doctor’s offices or public health centres. You can check HERE for more information and register. For older people, the price is €22, though prices could be different if you go to your doctor instead of a vaccination centre.

Residents of elderly and care homes get the vaccination free of charge in the facility where they live.

Burgenland

Children aged six months to 15 years can get the vaccine free in pharmacies and with their physicians. At-risk patients older than that can also get free vaccines, but only while supplies last. 

Otherwise, buying and paying for the vaccine in a pharmacy or with your general practitioner is possible. There are also free vaccinations in elderly and care homes. 

You can check more about the vaccination with your family doctor and paediatrician.

Salzburg

Children from six months to 15 years can get the vaccine free with any doctor offering it. You can check with your family doctor or paediatrician. Anyone over 15 that wants to get it needs to buy it at a pharmacy (prices vary depending on the vaccine used) and can ask their family doctor. 

There are free vaccinations for residents of elderly and care homes. 

You can read more about the vaccination offer in Salzburg HERE.

Tyrol

The flu vaccine is free for children from six months to the age of 15 years, and they can get it directly from their doctor (a general practitioner or a paediatrician, for example). For those older, it’s possible to vaccinate with their family doctors, but prices vary for the product and pharmacies and the doctor’s fee. 

Residents of elderly and nursing homes aged 60 and over get the vaccination free of charge.

You can read more about the vaccination offer in Tyrol HERE.

Vorarlberg

In Vorarlberg, children aged six months to 15 years can get the vaccine free with their doctors. Adults can also get it from general practitioner’s offices but will need to pay variable costs (depending on doctor fees and which vaccine they choose).

There are free vaccinations for residents of elderly and care homes. 

You can read more about the vaccination offer in Vorarlberg HERE.

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