AstraZeneca vaccine recipients not guaranteed access to the EU

Australians who have received the AstraZeneca vaccine will not be guaranteed access to the European Union once international travel resumes.

Travellers who’ve had the Indian-made AstraZeneca jab will still need to undergo quarantine and testing, as the manufacturer of the vaccine is not registered with European drug authorities.

That includes the Australian-made version of the jab.

Read: Calls for messaging to undo harmful impact of AstraZeneca reports

The Aussie and Indian versions of the jab are the same as those administered in the UK and throughout Europe, but the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has not approved CSL’s Melbourne facility or India’s Serum Institute of India (SII) where they are made.

The EU’s digital vaccine certificate will allow travellers to move freely among the 27 members of the Schengen Agreement as well as Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein, but only if you’ve had an EU approved vaccine.

The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) is unhappy that travellers will be denied access to the EU because of ‘unrecognised’ vaccines, says a Travel Weekly report.

Read more: Over-50s now eligible for AstraZeneca shot. What to do if that’s you

“The failure of countries to agree on a common list of all approved and recognised vaccines is of huge concern to WTTC, as we know every day travel is curbed, more cash-strapped travel and tourism businesses face even greater strain, pushing ever more to the brink of bankruptcy,” said Virginia Messina, senior vice-president at the WTTC.

“We can avoid this by having a fully recognised list of all the approved vaccines – and vaccine batches – which should be the key to unlocking international travel, not the door to preventing it.

“It will also give holidaymakers and travellers the confidence they need to book trips, flights and cruises; confident in the knowledge that their fully vaccinated status will be internationally recognised.”

Member states may bend the rules and allow entry to those with a World Health Organization approved vaccine, says European Commission spokesman for health, food safety and transport Stefan De Keersmaecker, who added that the commission may still approve another country’s vaccine certification down the track.

Read more: Qantas trials digital health pass to support international travel

At least 14 European countries will accept the Indian-made AstraZeneca vaccine, including France, Belgium, Austria, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and Sweden, according to The Times of India.

AstraZeneca is working to get its production sites approved by the EMA.

“It should be noted that all AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses meet the same rigorous quality standards no matter where they are made, as each batch passes over 60 quality tests as part of our robust quality assurance process,” a spokeswoman told 9News.

Do you think it’s fair to be denied access to European countries because you had a dose of the only vaccine option the federal government gave you? Why not share your opinions in the comments section below?

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Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca has worked in publishing and media in one form or another for around 25 years. He's a voracious reader, word spinner and art, writing, design, painting, drawing, travel and photography enthusiast. You'll often find him roaming through galleries or exploring the streets of his beloved Melbourne and surrounding suburbs, sketchpad or notebook in hand, smiling.
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