Hungary postpones narrower immunity certificate eligibility till May 1

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Hungary's government has pushed back the date for restricting Covid immunity certificate validity to the inoculated from February 15 to May 1 in a decree published in the latest issue of the official gazette Magyar Közlöny, according to a report by news agency MTI.

Under the new government decree, Hungarians who have recovered from Covid will no longer be eligible for immunity certificates. The certificates will be valid for people who have had their first two jabs of a COVID vaccine for a period of six months after getting the second dose. After that, validity will require a booster shot.

Gergely Gulyás, the head of the Prime Minister's Office, explained at a press briefing a week earlier that pushing back the rollout date for the modification from February 15 until May 1 was intended to harmonize Hungary's immunity certificate rules with other European Union Member States'.

He explained that neither Brussels nor other EU countries had tightened rules on immunity certificates with the emergence of the Omicron variant, and the government did not want to put Hungarian citizens at a disadvantage compared to their EU peers when traveling.

The European Commission in December adopted a binding acceptance period of nine months - exactly 270 days - for vaccination certificates for the purpose of intra-EU travel. The EC noted that the validity period takes into account guidance from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control recommending booster jabs at the latest six months after the completion of the first vaccination cycle, adding that EU digital COVID certificates would remain valid for a grace period of an additional three months beyond those six months "to ensure that national vaccination campaigns can adjust and citizens will have access to booster doses".

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