An update to the EU Digital COVID-19 Certificate could be issued in Ireland as soon as next week.
That's according to travel expert Sarah Slattery, who was speaking amid concern that the certs may start to run out under EU rules.
Fine Gael TD Alan Farrell this afternoon said the certs will be updated to reflect third doses by January 15th.
Good news with regard to the EU Digital Covid Cert. In line with EU commitments, the certs will be updated to reflect third doses, by January 15th.
— Alan Farrell TD (@AlanFarrell) January 5, 2022
Under the EU plan, adopted by the European Commission last month, certs would only be valid for travel within the bloc for nine months after completion of the primary vaccination schedule.
The certs are used for inter-EU travel - while some member states also require them to access indoor bars, restaurants and other venues across the bloc.
"The new rules will ensure restrictions are based on the best available scientific evidence as well as objective criteria", the Commission said in a statement in December.
"Continued coordination is essential for the functioning of the single market and it will provide clarity for EU citizens in the exercise of their right to free movement."
However certs issued by Ireland have yet to be updated - meaning some people who received earlier vaccines may not be able to use them for travel from next month.
Sarah told Lunchtime Live different countries are applying different rules.
"Italy introduced extra restrictions there before Christmas - so Italy is particularly strict insofar as your last dose has to be no more than nine months.
"An awful lot of EU countries are introducing the same system, but they're not introducing it until the 1st of February.
"My understanding is that the boosters will be added to the COVID certs by then.
"It says on the Digital COVID Cert Irish portal that they haven't added the booster yet to your Digital COVID Cert - but the plan is do it early in the new year.
"So I called them this morning to see if there was any more clarification on that; and they said they had a meeting yesterday - and they hoped to have them implemented in the next week or two".
But Sarah says Ireland is behind the curve on this, as it has not come as a surprise.
"It's been flagged for months... a lot of countries have been talking about your certificate only being valid for nine months - this has been going on for ages, it's not like as if it's only just happened.
"Some countries have bought it in sooner because of Omicron - the likes of Italy, and the likes of Austria and that.
"It's something that's been talked about for quite some time, I think we've all been fully aware that the immunity does wane and the COVID certs were going to have to be updated.
"And a lot of other countries have updated them; so I don't understand what the delay is".
'Work is underway'
In a statement, the Department of Health says: "The European Commission has adopted a new nine-month validity maximum period for EU Digital COVID Certs based on a completed primary vaccination regime.
"This will come into effect for travel across the EU from 1 February 2022. This does not impact on booster doses.
"With the successful roll-out of the booster campaign in Ireland, work is underway across Government with a view to issue EU Digital COVID Certificates reflecting these additional doses.
"To ensure these additionally issued Digital COVID Certificates continue to be interoperable across the EU the technical aspects of the process are under consideration with preparations allowing for implementation early in the new year.
"Similar validity periods on vaccination certificates for domestic use (such as access to indoor dining etc) are not currently planned by the Government."