Which vaccinations are compulsory for children in France?

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Which vaccinations are compulsory for children in France?
A child receives a dose of Pfizer/BioNTech Covid 19 vaccine in Strasbourg (Photo by SEBASTIEN BOZON / AFP)

Before a child starts school in France, parents are asked to provide proof of vaccination, with 11 vaccines now compulsory for school starters.


When children register for school in France, parents will be asked to provide, among other health records, proof that they have been vaccinated.

And since a new law was introduced, a total of 11 vaccinations are now compulsory if you want to register your child for school in France.

In addition, there are occasionally regional vaccine drives to encourage awareness and vaccination.

For example, in the eastern part of Lyon, the regional health authorities have launched a campaign to push young adults to be vaccinated against meningococcal B infections (meningitis) after an uptick in infections were reported in Spring 2023.

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Which vaccines?

Diptheria, tetanus and polio vaccinations have been compulsory for some time, but in 2018 another eight were added to the list - whooping cough, measles, mumps, rubella, hepatitis B, influenza, pneumonia and meningitis C.

The extra vaccinations were already recommended to parents, but they have been made compulsory for school registration, although there are some exemptions on medical grounds if a child has a condition which can make vaccinations harmful.


These apply to any child born on or after January 1st 2018.

As of April 2023, public health officials have also recommended that infants aged 6 weeks to 6 months be vaccinated against Rotavirus, and that children with underlying health conditions also receive an annual vaccination against influenza, if they are aged between two and 17. 

France has also recently made it so that in many cases, vaccines can be administered by pharmacists, nurses and midwives in addition to physicians. However, this applies to people over the age of 16.

In terms of vaccination against Covid-19, health authorities have recommended that children in high-risk groups be vaccinated, including those under the age of five. The vaccination is open to all children aged five and over - and is recommended - but is not required for school registration or any other activities.


Why compulsory?

Former Health Minister Agnes Buzyn was concerned that the low take-up rates of the vaccinations were creating a "public health crisis" particularly with the reemergence of measles, which killed 23 people in France between 2008 and 2019.

“We have the same problem with meningitis. It's not acceptable that a 15-year-old teenager could die just because they have not been vaccinated," the former-minister had said.


Lower vaccination rates are not just a problem for people who have not had the jab, they also lower the 'herd immunity' which protects people who cannot be vaccinated such as very young babies and people with a compromised immune system such as those undergoing cancer treatment.

In April 2022, Santé Publique France published a report saying that "measles vaccination coverage at the age of 2 is steadily increasing, but it still has not reached the 95 percent threshold needed for its elimination".

What if my child is not vaccinated?

Any child who has not had the full 11 vaccinations by the time they start in full time education (which is now compulsory from the age of three) will not be fully enrolled in school. Instead they will be provisionally enrolled and the parents will be given three months to have the vaccinations carried out.

If you really don't want your child to have the vaccinations, then you will need to home-school them - a complicated process in France that comes with a lot of checks and paperwork. 


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Anonymous 2019/09/07 19:34
When I heard about the low rate of vaccinations in France and other European countries, I had my blood titered for immunity before I left the USA for France. The titier showed no immunity to the normal childhood diseases one is vaccinated for. I had all of my required childhood vaccinations again before I left the US. I did not want to get measles or polio as a senior citizen.

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