Depending on when they received their vaccination shots, international travelers may find it harder to enter two European countries this fall.
Austria and Croatia have each introduced a 270-day maximum validity time limit on vaccinations, reports the Irish Mirror. Other countries may soon follow suit.
Travelers attempting to enter Austria or Croatia will no longer be considered fully vaccinated if more than 270 days have passed since their last shot.
The new limit would mean that travelers who completed vaccination in February would see their validity expire in November.
The time limit is not an outright ban. Instead, those would-be tourists will be treated as if they have not been vaccinated at all, and, just like unvaccinated visitors, will be required to produce a negative PCR or rapid antigen test in order to proceed.
They would also have to follow all other procedures and restrictions that apply to unvaccinated visitors.
In Croatia's case (read the official policy here), visitors are required to quarantine at their own expense until the new test result is available, just as unvaccinated arrivals must do.
Austria's policy specifies that vaccines that only require one dose are considered valid after 22 days. The country's official guidance (read that here) does not yet specifically address booster shots, so the current assumption is that any additional doses will fall under the same rules as a single-dose vaccination and become valid after 22 days.
The 270-day limit adds a new, unexpected layer of planning, particularly if temporary quarantine is called for, but authorities say the change is necessary because prevailing scientific wisdom holds that the jab's efficacy may wane over time.
For Americans, the rule change won't necessarily derail vacation plans—but it will increase demand for booster shots.
Austria and Croatia's 270-day validity limit equals about 9 months, but the U.S. is now recommending booster shots for people who completed their initial vaccine course at least 8 months earlier.
Those Americans who obtain booster shots promptly after the 8-month recommended time frame ends will maintain their status as vaccinated travelers without interruption. The clock would reset and those travelers could enter Austria or Croatia under the rules for fully vaccinated visitors, provided at least 14 days (for Croatia) or 22 days (for Austria) have elapsed since the booster shot.
The U.S. may not have universal health care yet, but at least vaccinations and boosters are free to receive.
The latest rule change answers a looming question: Will foreign countries require visitors to have up-to-date booster shots?
Austria and Croatia have answered yes. If other countries follow their lead, then making sure your booster status is current will be as important to unencumbered travel as making sure you were vaccinated to begin with.