Announcing the four-step process for lifting lockdown in France, president Emmanuel Macron outlined several steps – including travel from the USA – that would only be possible with a pass sanitaire or health passport.
The first step towards the creation of vaccine passports happened on Monday, when people receiving an injection began to be issued with an attestation de vaccination Covid-19 or vaccination certificate.
This example was posted by doctor and medical columnist Jimmy Mohammed, who added that his patients were “very happy, it’s a real official document, some even asked me if I could fill out the certificate for their spouse who was vaccinated last week”.
Les attestations de vaccination certifiées avec QR code arrivent ! A scanner ensuite sur AntiCovid ! Le pass sanitaire se met progressivement en place et c’est une bonne nouvelle. pic.twitter.com/SomDqSZIvn
— Dr Jimmy Mohamed ⭐️⭐️ (@Dr_moji) May 3, 2021
The certificate also comes with a QR code that can be scanned into France’s Covid tracker app TousAntiCovid and create a ‘vaccine pass’ that can be scanned on entrance to certain venues, or at the borders.
The app already has the facility to scan the results of Covid tests, creating a similar pass.
Thomas Fantôme, head of the health system Assurance maladie, said the new codes were “the vaccination brick of the future health pass”.
What about those who have already had their vaccine?
If you have already had your vaccine and didn’t get a certificate, these will be available “from the second half of May”, according to digital affairs minister Cedric O.
Si vous avez été vacciné avant lundi, vous pourrez récupérer votre certificat de vaccination dans votre espace https://t.co/hl7CU30E8b à partir de la 2ème quinzaine de mai.@olivierveran @ameli_actu pic.twitter.com/D8rplex29I
— Cédric O (@cedric_o) May 4, 2021
These will be available via your online Ameli account. If you don’t have already have an account you can visit www.ameli.fr and register using the details on your carte vitale.
The account can only be set up by people who are registered in the French social security system and have a carte vitale, however.
France is allowing vaccination of residents who do not yet have their carte vitale – full details on how that works HERE.
We asked the Health Ministry what the advice was for people who had already had their vaccine, but aren’t able to set up an Ameli account to get their vaccination certificate.
They told us: “This group are invited to contact the vaccination centre or the doctor/pharmacist who performed the injection to obtain a paper certificate of vaccination.”
So what can the health pass be used for?
At present, nothing, but it’s part of the plan for the wider opening up of France, with Macron tagging two particular activities that will require a health pass once they recommence in June – travel from non-EU countries including the USA and access to large events like concerts.
For domestic use, it’s envisaged that it will be used for events of more than 5,000 people – concerts, sports matches, large public meetings or festivals.
Ministers have already said it won’t be used for day-to-day activities such as going to the gym or a café.
People wanting to attend large events can download the app, scan either their vaccination certificate or a recent negative Covid test and generate the code, which can be scanned on the door by staff.
What about international travel?
This may be a little more complicated.
France has been trialling TousAntiCovid codes on internal flights but once international travel opens up there will be two issues – whether the various countries’ apps and vaccination certificates will ‘talk’ to each other correctly and allow scanning of certificates and what agreements countries have in place about health passports.
In parallel to France’s app, the EU is also working on its own app, the ‘digital green pass’, which it aims to launch in June. Like the French app, it will have options to upload either a vaccination certificate or a recent negative test, with a third option of a medical certificate for people who have recently recovered from Covid.
For non-EU countries, however, it’s more complicated and will require negotiation on the recognition of either France’s health pass or the EU’s pass, or both.
France’s transport minister Jean-Baptiste Djebarri told LCI radio on Monday: “We are going to negotiate with partners, such as the Americans, bilateral agreements that will allow us to travel to each other’s countries.”
As a non-EU country, the UK will also need to negotiate either directly with France or with the EU for mutual recognition of vaccine passports.
When will be be available?
June 9th is the first date on France’s reopening calendar that involves the health pass, so it’s unlikely to be in use before then. The June 9th date can also be postponed if the health situation deteriorates.
Until then people who are able to travel to France will need to present at the border a negative PCR test taken within the previous 72 hours – even if they are fully vaccinated.
What about people who don’t have a smartphone?
Digital affairs minister Cedric O has already said there will be the option for people to show paper certificates for leisure purposes in France.
The situation for international travel has currently not been confirmed.