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HEALTH

France to trial ‘vaccine passport’ for flights

France will try out a Covid-free status digital pass for air travellers with flag carrier Air France starting a month-long trial for some flights, Transport Minister Jean-Baptiste Djebbari said on Thursday.

France to trial 'vaccine passport' for flights
Photo: Thomas Coex/AFP

Airlines battered by travel restrictions are pushing hard for a global standard that would reassure passengers over contagion risks onboard and accelerate an eventual recovery for the sector.

For Air France flights to the French Caribbean territories of Martinique and Guadeloupe, passengers will have to present a phone app that shows either a vaccination certificate or a recent negative Covid test.

READ ALSO EXPLAINED What does France’s vaccine passport trial mean for travel in 2021?

The system would require partnerships with testing facilities that would provide the digital proof.

“The goal is to see if it works well in real-time” by reducing checks that are drastically slowing boarding and arrival procedures, Djebbari told RMC radio.

“It could offer a preview, or at least a large-scale test, of a future ‘travel pass'” that would “ensure against fraud and shorten waiting lines,” he said.

He did not specify if Air France would use a system being developed by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), which is being tested by several international carriers.

But for now, the travel pass does not foreshadow a broader Covid vaccination requirement for travel or other activities, such as going to restaurants or the cinema, Djebbari said.

Member comments

  1. Yes totally agree with Laurieannya. The vaccination program is appaulling for a country that prides itself in its health system.

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HEALTH

Experts warn of high levels of flu in France this winter

Experts have warned of a particularly bad flu epidemic this winter in France due to a combination of lowered immune systems and 'vaccine apathy' - urging high-risk groups to get their shot as soon as the flu vaccination campaign begins in October.

Experts warn of high levels of flu in France this winter

France’s annual flu vaccine campaign will officially get under way on October 18th this year – and medical experts have warned that this year’s season may be a bad one amid fears of “vaccine apathy”.

When, where and how to get flu shots and Covid boosters in France this autumn

Immunologist Alain Fischer, who chaired France’s Conseil d’orientation de la stratégie vaccinale throughout the Covid-19 pandemic said that the high number of flu cases in Australia and the southern hemisphere in its winter were “a warning sign” that this winter’s flu, coupled with rising cases of Covid-19, could lead to a sharp rise in hospitalisations again in the winter.

“For two years, influenza has been kept at bay, thanks to the barrier measures we have put in place against Covid,” he told Le Parisien. 

“This year, it will be difficult to maintain the same level of protection: masks, distancing, intensive hand washing … Faced with this relaxation, there is a serious risk of flu epidemic.”

Between two million and six million people contract flu every winter in France. The infection is responsible for between 4,000 and 6,000 deaths every year, usually among people aged 65 and over. But in ‘bad’ flu years, that mortality figure can rise rapidly.

READ ALSO When, where and how to get flu shots and Covid boosters this autumn in France

The country, meanwhile, is at the start of what is being described as an “eighth wave” of Covid, and the Haute Autorité de santé recommends the eligible, vulnerable people ensure they are vaccinated against both viruses as early as possible. “A Covid-flu cohabitation is not a good thing,”  Fischer said. “It is synonymous with a very high number of hospitalisations. 

“Hence the objective of two strong vaccination campaigns – Covid and flu – especially for the most vulnerable.”

“The double injection is very good, and practical for patients. But I think that we should not wait, especially vulnerable people. It is a mistake to think that you will get your Covid booster when the flu vaccine is here – the Covid jab should not be delayed.”

Currently less than 40 percent of people eligible for a fourth Covid vaccine have received their latest dose.

Dual-strain Covid-19 vaccines designed to combat both delta and omicron variants will be available in France from October 3rd.

READ ALSO France approves new vaccines for Covid Omicron sub-variants

“It is quite possible to get your Covid injection in early October and flu vaccine in late October – you will need both anyway,” Fischer said.

The Haute Autorité de Santé recommends influenza vaccination for the following groups:

  • people aged 65 and over; 
  • people with chronic diseases; 
  • pregnant women;
  • people suffering from obesity (BMI equal to or greater than 40 kg/m 2 );
  • Infants under 6 months at risk of serious influenza;
  • Families and others close to immunocompromised people; 
  • home help workers caring for vulnerable individuals.

For anyone in these groups, the flu vaccine is 100 percent covered by health insurance and delivered free of charge to the pharmacy, on presentation of a voucher.

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