Covid booster jab not required for travel to UK over Christmas

Grant Shapps, Britain’s transport chief, vows no change to travel rules in 2021 meaning double vaccinated can continue to move freely without quarantine

Double vaccinated UK residents yet to have their Covid-19 booster will not have to quarantine if they return home for Christmas, British Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has said.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson previously hinted that rules regarding coronavirus vaccinations and quarantine-free travel into the UK were likely to change, to include the requirement of a third booster shot.

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Even if people do not have their booster, they will still be able to come back [to the UK] as we are not making any rules changes this year
Grant Shapps, UK Secretary of State for Transport

Travellers who are fully vaccinated are allowed to enter the UK, unless their country appears on its red list. The UAE is not included on this list.

As of Monday, the UK recognises all Covid-19 vaccines on the World Health Organisation's emergency use list, including Sinopharm and Covaxin.

In October, the UAE authorised the emergency use of booster shots of Pfizer-BioNTech and Sputnik vaccines for some groups, given six months after the second dose.

Many residents who were vaccinated with Sinopharm more than six months ago have already received a third vaccine. However, a third dose booster programme has not yet been launched in the UAE.

Speaking at the UK pavilion at Dubai Expo 2020, Mr Shapps said travel rules for people entering Britain would not change this year.

“I’ve met with the relevant aviation minister in the UAE and we spoke about the issue of travel between the two countries,” he said.

“We are very keen to keep the routes open, we absolutely want to do that and we do not see any prospect of anything else happening this Christmas.”

Future booster shots

Boosters are required in some countries as neutralising antibodies created from a vaccination have been shown to wane after time, usually about six months.

Increasing numbers of European nations now require proof of a third booster shot for entry into the country, including Croatia, Austria and Switzerland, with France expected to match those rules.

Only over-40s and those considered vulnerable are eligible for a Covid-19 booster in the UK.

The first UK real-world study by the UK Health Security Agency showed Pfizer-BioNTech's Covid-19 vaccine booster significantly increased protection against symptomatic disease to about 95 per cent in over-50s.

Mr Shapps said while booster campaigns in the UK and UAE were developing well, he expected changes to vaccine requirements to be introduced in 2022.

Britain's National Health Service app now recognises a third booster vaccination in anticipation of it being required more widely across Europe.

“We all understand that boosters are the way forward,” Mr Shapps said.

“Even if people do not have their booster, they will still be able to come back [to the UK] as we are not making any rules changes this year.

“We are committed to not readdressing the booster situation until the new year, so there will not be any rule changes at our end.

“It is important for the UAE that we now recognise Sinopharm.”

Updated: November 23rd 2021, 3:55 AM
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