Which vaccinations are compulsory for children in France?

As French children go back to school, parents will be asked for vaccination certificates for new starters and 11 vaccines are now compulsory.

Which vaccinations are compulsory for children in France?
There are now 11 compulsory vaccinations in France. Photo: AFP

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 in France.

READ ALSO Why are the French so fond of conspiracy theories?

Measles has killed 23 people in France since 2008. Photo: AFP

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 last year's law made them compulsory, although there are some exemptions on medical grounds if a child has a condition which can make vaccinations harmful.

The vaccinations are compulsory for any child born on or after January 1st 2018.

Why compulsory?

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 has killed 23 people in France since 2008.

“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 minister 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.

France's health minister Agnes Buzyn, a former doctor. Photo: AFP

What is the problem with vaccination levels?

France has the lowest rate of trust in vaccines in the world, with a recent survey showing that 33 percent of people polled saying they do not agree that immunisation is safe.

France is not alone in having falling rates of trusts in vaccinations, both the UK and the US have seen lower rates of children getting the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine, with the result that the UK recently lost its 'measles free' status and there have been several large outbreaks in the USA.

France is the only country in the world that makes vaccination compulsory, something which may have been counter-productive in building trust says Francoise Salvadori, a biologist and co-author of Antivax, a history of the anti-vaccination movement in France.

“We have never abandoned 'paternalistic medicine' despite the fact that every time more vaccines are pushed upon us, there is a greater resistance to them,” Salvadori told The Local, pointing out that Britain scrapped obligatory vaccinations in the 19th century. 

“But it is difficult for the government to know how to take action when not enough people are being vaccinated – and yet obliging them to do so does not seem to work either.”
Like many countries, the 'Big Pharma' conspiracy theory – the idea that the medical establishment and pharmaceutical companies operate for sinister purposes and against the public good –  is prevalent in France.
On top of that in France health ministers are often doctors, and therefore seen as complicit in any dealings with the pharma industry, “stuffing their pockets and working against the public”, said Salvadori. 
The results of the recent survey could also represent a more general loss of confidence in the French state of which the anti-government 'yellow vest' protests were a sign, said Salvadori, adding that France has also seen a few incidences involving vaccinations that may have made people more skeptical over whether they, or their children, need to be vaccinated. 
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.



Member comments

  1. 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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What changes in France in July 2022

Summer's here and the time is right for national celebrations, traffic jams, strikes, Paris beaches, and ... changing the rules for new boilers.

What changes in France in July 2022

Summer holidays

The holiday season in France officially begins on Thursday, July 7th, as this is the date when school’s out for the summer. The weekend immediately after the end of the school year is expected to be a busy one on the roads and the railways as families start heading off on vacation.

READ ALSO 8 things to know about driving in France this summer


But it wouldn’t really be summer in France without a few strikes – airport employees at Paris’ Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports will walk out on July 1st, while SNCF rail staff will strike on July 6th. Meanwhile Ryanair employees at Paris, Marseille and Toulouse airports will strike on yet-to-be-confirmed dates in July.

READ ALSO How strikes and staff shortages will affect summer in France

Parliamentary fireworks?

Prime minister Elisabeth Borne will present the government’s new programme in parliament on July 5th – this is expected to be a tricky day for the Macron government, not only does it not have the parliamentary majority that it needs to pass legislation like the new package of financial aid to help householders deal with the cost-of-living crisis, but opposition parties have indicated that they will table a motion of no confidence against Borne.

Parliament usually breaks for the summer at the end of July, but a special extended session to allow legislation to be passed means that MPs won’t get to go on holiday until at least August 9th. 

Fête nationale

July 14th is a public holiday in France, commemorating the storming of the Bastille which was the symbolic start of the French Revolution. As usual, towns and cities will host parades and fireworks – with the biggest military parade taking place on the Champs-Elysées in Paris – and many stores will remain closed.

As the national holiday falls on a Thursday this year, many French workers will take the opportunity to faire le pont.

Festival season really kicks in

You know summer’s here when France gets festival fever, with events in towns and cities across the country. You can find our pick of the summer celebrations here.

Paris Plages

The capital’s popular urban beaches return on July 9th on the banks of the Seine and beside the Bassin de la Villette in northern Paris, bringing taste of the seaside to the capital with swimming spots, desk chairs, beach games and entertainment.  

Summer sales end 

Summer sales across most of the country end on July 19th – unless you live in Alpes-Maritimes, when they run from July 6th to August 2nd, or the island of Corsica (July 13th to August 9th).

Tour de France

The Tour de France cycle race sets off on July 1st from Copenhagen and finishes up on the Champs-Elysée in Paris on July 24th.

New boilers

From July 1st, 2022, new equipment installed for heating or hot water in residential or professional buildings, must comply with a greenhouse gas emissions ceiling of 300 gCO2eq/KWh PCI. 

That’s a technical way of saying oil or coal-fired boilers can no longer be installed. Nor can any other type of boiler that exceeds the ceiling.

As per a decree published in the Journal Officiel in January, existing appliances can continue to be used, maintained and repaired, but financial aid of up to €11,000 is planned to encourage their replacement. 

Bike helmets

New standards for motorbike helmets come into effect from July 1st. Riders do not need to change their current helmets, but the “ECE 22.05” standard can no longer be issued – and all helmets sold must adhere to a new, more stringent “ECE 22.06” standards from July 2024

New cars

From July 6th new car models must be equipped with a black box that record driving parameters such as speed, acceleration or braking phases, wearing (or not) of a seat belt, indicator use, the force of the collision or engine speed, in case of accidents.

New cars II

From July 1st, the ecological bonus for anyone who buys an electric vehicle drops by €1,000, while rechargeable hybrids will be excluded from the aid system, “which will be reserved for electric vehicles whose CO2 emission rate is less than or equal to 20g/km”.

What’s in a name?

Historically, the French have been quite restrictive on the use of family names – remember the concern over the use of birth names on Covid vaccine documents? – but it becomes easier for an adult to choose to bear the name of his mother, his father, or both by a simple declaration to the civil status. All you have to do is declare your choice by form at the town hall of your home or place of birth.

Eco loans

In concert with the new boiler rules, a zero-interest loan of up to €30,000 to finance energy-saving renovations can be combined with MaPrimeRénov’, a subsidy for financing the same work, under certain conditions, from July 1st.

Rent rules

Non-professional private landlords advertising properties for rent must, from July 1st, include specific information about the property on the ad, including the size of the property in square metres, the area of town in which the property is in, the monthly rent and any supplements, whether the property is in a rent-control area, and the security deposit required. Further information, including the full list of requirements for any ad, is available here.

Perfume ban

More perfumes are to be added to a banned list for products used by children, such as soap-making kits, cosmetic sets, shampoos, or sweet-making games, or toys that have an aroma.

Atranol, chloroatranol (extracts of oak moss containing tannins), and methyl carbonate heptin, which smells like violets, will be banned from July 5th, because of their possible allergenic effects.

Furthermore, 71 new allergenic fragrances – including camphor, menthol, vanilin, eucalyptus spp. leaf oil, rose flower oil, lavendula officinalis, turpentine – will be added to the list of ingredients that must be clearly indicated on a toy or on an attached label.

Ticket resto limits

The increased ticket resto limit ended on June 30th, so from July 1st employees who receive the restaurant vouchers will once again be limited to spending €19 per day in restaurants, cafés and bars. The limit was increased to €38 during the pandemic, when workers were working from home.