Hungary – Facing the rapid spread of the new Omicron variant, Hungary has decided to strengthen its measures against the pandemic. The Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff, Gergely Gulyás, announced during a press briefing on 13 January that the current health passport will become a vaccination passport from 15 February.
Third dose needed if second dose more than six months old
The vaccination certificate will only be valid for those who have received three doses of the vaccine or whose second dose was administered less than six months ago. In practice, for those in good standing, only the name of their current health passport will change and their current QR-code will remain valid. For minors, two jabs of an anti-Covid vaccine will be sufficient to benefit from the new vaccination passport.
2,187,488 health passport to lose validity on 15 February
However, for those who have received only one dose of the Covid vaccine or who now enjoy a health passport because of having recovered from Covid, who comprise about one-third of current health passport holders (there were 6,809,127 passport holders in total as of 13 January), the green pass will turn red on 15 February unless they receive one or two more jabs by then. Fortunately for Hungarians, the Covid passport is only required in relatively few places compared to other European countries, and given the current election campaign, the Orbán government will be rather reluctant to broaden its requirements, at least until early April.
Gulyás justified the change, however, by saying that
“the importance of having recovered from the coronavirus is going to change with the Omicron variant as it is the vaccine that provides protection, rather than having recovered from the disease”.
At the same time, PM Viktor Orbán has encouraged people who qualify to consult their general practitioner to get a fourth jab.