Covid vaccination certificates were introduced as a way to provide “security” in international travel when the coronavirus pandemic, still present, was at its highest risk levels. It was and still is one more paper to carry and a cumbersome process to face, especially when national decisions such as that of Spain to give only one vaccine out of two to those who had been infected, was an obstacle for those who wanted to go. , for example, to the United States where the 2/2 should appear yes or yes in the certificates.
Overcome, or almost, that first bureaucratic trauma and when its use had become widespread, the European Union decided in February to introduce changes in how the number of doses required by each of the commercial brands and those that each one has received is codified. And chaos broke out again. Especially for those vaccinated with Janssen or those who have been vaccinated after passing covid-19.
Because, for example, if we had been vaccinated with Janssen’s single-dose drug but had received the non-Janssen booster dose, a 2/2 appeared on the previous certificates. But if the paper has been issued beyond February 2022 after the encoding change, it puts 2/1. Nothing really changes, the certificate continues to attest that we have received two doses of vaccine although it is specified that, in principle, with one we already had the complete guideline as it was from Janssen. The same happens if you passed the disease and have a positive diagnosis but still have received the two doses and the memory dose. Before, 3/3 appeared on the certificate. If it was taken beyond February, a 3/1 appears that confuses many.
But that the numerator is higher than the denominator has not always been well understood. So much so that in the first weeks of the change, the lack of information about the new codes left people on the ground unable to fly.
Today, three months later, it continues to cause problems and generate doubts, first among the travelers themselves who are unaware of the change and do not know how to interpret the codes. But also among those responsible for the administration who are not familiar with the new format of the certificate and, what is more dangerous, among travel agents or customs or airline officials who ultimately have to clear access to the plane.
“They thought it was a mistake”
This is what happened to Manuel, a resident of Valencia. The Boston Marathon, in which he was going to participate, was the excuse to travel with his family to the United States during Easter. But the couple panicked when they found that, despite the fact that both Manuel and his wife had received the same vaccination schedule (the Janssen single dose and then the Pfizer booster last December), their certificates looked completely different: the of him with a 2/2; hers with a strange 2/1. And all because they requested their expedition before and after February, respectively.
“We had no major concern for the trip that the PCR to travel would give us negative because we had religiously vaccinated but two days before, on Holy Wednesday and when we got my wife’s certificate we saw 2/1” and that’s where the doubts arose and the fear of staying on land.
“She had both vaccines and it is clear that 2 out of 1 is correct, but explain it to people,” Manuel reasons. Alerted that the numerator/denominator could be misread or that they even had problems entering the United States —“because there they read certain codes backwards, like dates,” says Manuel—, they went to their health center. “There they knew nothing about the change and in fact they thought it was a mistake,” he recalls.
In the end and resorting to the help of a doctor who is a friend of the family «we found out why but we still asked for proof of vaccination for fear that there would be a problem. At the end of the day you are dealing with bureaucrats or airline people in a hurry and that person may not be discerning or have time. The new coding of Manuel’s wife’s certificate did not cause problems when entering the United States, although it did raise suspicions “precisely here, with the airline’s. I explained it to him and he let us pass but…».
They were able to go and come back without any problems, although other families have not been so lucky, precisely because of that lack of knowledge. This is confirmed by sources from the General Directorate of Public Health of the Ministry of Health consulted by this newspaper. “They have called us because there are people who have not been allowed to get on the plane with the 2/1, for example, since they have found people who did not know how to interpret it,” they say.
These extreme cases, after the new codification has been in force for three months, are no longer happening, but in Public Health there are still numerous queries that they receive regarding this change. “Especially from the users who are going to travel, to whom it generates a lot of stress and now more from travel agencies that are not clear about it, although in the airlines it is normalizing,” they explain.
These are real images of the covid vaccination certificate of the same person who was vaccinated first with the Janssen unit dose and then received the booster dose from Pfizer (Comarty), as can be seen in the document. The image on the left, which reflects that he has two doses out of two (2/2), is from the document he applied for in December. To make a trip at Easter, she requested the certificate again (document above). There already appears the code 2/1.