We need your help now

Support from readers like you keeps The Journal open.

You are visiting us because we have something you value. Independent, unbiased news that tells the truth. Advertising revenue goes some way to support our mission, but this year it has not been enough.

If you've seen value in our reporting, please contribute what you can, so we can continue to produce accurate and meaningful journalism. For everyone who needs it.

File image of an airport. Shutterstock

Q&A: Digital Covid Certs are being updated for boosters - here's what they'll be required for

If you’re boosted, you’ll soon get a new EU pass.

PEOPLE WHO HAVE received a Covid-19 booster dose will now be issued an updated Digital Covid Cert.

The certs will be issued from today and will soon be required for vaccinated people to travel within the EU. 

From next month, people relying on their cert showing Covid vaccination status to travel within the EU will need a booster dose if their initial course of vaccines concluded more than nine months ago. 

The updated cert won’t be needed for use to access restaurants or other venues within Ireland just yet – it’s just needed for travel purposes. 

Here’s what we know about it so far.  

What will the new cert be needed for?

The cert will be needed from 1 February for travel between EU countries.

The current vaccination certs will have a nine-month validity period from next month, meaning if you got vaccinated early last year (with either a two-dose mRNA course or the single-dose Janssen vaccine) and haven’t yet received a booster your cert may not be valid for travel. 

The pass will be used for travel in the same way as the current Digital Covid Cert.

For those who haven’t received a booster dose but who have had Covid-19 in the past nine months, a recovery cert will also suffice for travel instead of the updated vaccine cert. 

So essentially, if you have received a Covid booster, you don’t need to do anything and your updated Digital Covid Cert with details of your booster will be sent to you soon. 

If you haven’t yet been boosted, but your most recent vaccine dose was within the last nine months, your current cert will work for EU travel purposes for now.

If you are unvaccinated, you can still travel in the EU with a recent PCR negative test result. 

Younger children are often exempt from testing/vaccine pass requirements when travelling in the EU, but teenagers usually must abide by the same requirement for a recent negative Covid-19 test, proof of recovery or a vaccine pass. 

The updated Covid passes will be issued to people from this afternoon, according to the Department of Health.

The department said it will take a number of days to issue the certs to everyone who is eligible and advised people to check their emails. 

Minister of State for Public Procurement and eGovernment Ossian Smyth said that almost five million Covid certs had been issued since they were first introduced during the summer.

More than 800 million certs have been issued overall in the EU. 

Speaking to Newstalk radio this morning, Smyth said the vast majority of the certs will be issued by email. 

He said anyone who doesn’t have an email address or who may not have given their email address when receiving their booster will receive a text with instructions on how to download their new Covid cert 

Smyth said in a statement this afternoon that the updated cert will contain a QR code and can be stored on the Covid Tracker App, replacing the current vaccination cert issued after people were initially vaccinated. 

After a week from now, if people who are boosted haven’t received their updated cert, the Department of Health said it can be requested through the online self-service portal.

Is it needed for anything in Ireland yet, or will the current Covid vaccine cert/recovery cert work?

Nothing is changing with the Digital Covid Cert in Ireland at the moment. The two-dose (or one in the case of J&J) will still suffice for going to an indoor pub, restaurant or the cinema, among other activities.

The Department of Health said today that validity periods on vaccine certs for use in Ireland to access activities such as indoor dining “are not currently planned by the government”.

Asked yesterday whether a booster dose will soon be required to enter pubs, restaurants and other indoor venues in Ireland, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said this will happen but not in the short-term.

“In the fullness of time yes, but not shorter than that,” he said. 

“Government decisions will have to be taken in terms of the policy implication of that but it’s very clear to us that the benefits of the booster are very significant.”

What’s happening in other countries? 

In France, Covid vaccine certs will soon require a booster dose for everyone over 18.

From 15 January, all adults who received their second vaccine dose more than seven months ago will need a booster dose to do certain activities such as travel on inter-city trains and go to restaurants. 

People in France can receive a booster jab three months after their most recent vaccine dose. This is the same guidance in place in Ireland. 

Unvaccinated people can instead show a recent negative test result, but French president Emmanuel Macron recently expressed that he wants to make the lives of unvaccinated people as difficult as possible through strict vaccine pass rules.  

What happens if you had Covid-19 before you could get a booster, but you never had a confirmatory PCR test?

At a media briefing earlier today, HSE CEO Paul Reid said that there is “no doubt we haven’t seen the total volume” of Covid-19 cases in Ireland in recent weeks. 

Many have struggled to get a PCR test in recent weeks in Ireland with soaring case numbers across the country leading to increased demand on the testing system.

Currently, vaccinated people who have had Covid-19 in Ireland are recommended to wait three months before receiving a booster dose. 

This may leave some people who recently contracted Covid-19 and who were vaccinated early last year in limbo without a valid vaccine pass for travel, and also without a recovery cert. 

A positive PCR test is currently required in order to get a Covid-19 recovery cert, which can be used for travel in the EU for people who have recovered from Covid in the past six months. 

The HSE confirmed today that it is examining a mechanism for people to register their positive antigen test results with the health service, with further clarification expected on this soon. 

HSE Chief Clinical Officer Dr Colm Henry said that for each positive case confirmed there could be “one or possibly even two more cases out there”.

Readers like you are keeping these stories free for everyone...
Our Explainer articles bring context and explanations in plain language to help make sense of complex issues. We're asking readers like you to support us so we can continue to provide helpful context to everyone, regardless of their ability to pay.

Your Voice
Readers Comments
This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
Leave a Comment
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.

    Leave a commentcancel