Reader question: I’ve had Covid-19 in France and since then have had one dose of the vaccine, which counts as fully vaccinated here, so this means I can avoid quarantine in the UK?
Unfortunately there are different definitions of what “fully vaccinated” means on either side of the Channel.
The British government’s strict definition of “fully vaccinated” is that it means having two injections of a double-dose vaccine, such as Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, or AstraZeneca, or one injection of the single-dose Johnson&Johnson – while France and the EU also consider those who have recovered from the virus and who have had a single dose of any vaccine to be fully protected.
The same applies to people who had different vaccines for the two doses – in France this is considered perfectly normal, but the UK government insists that you are not ‘fully vaccinated’ unless both your doses were of the same brand.
Since June, vaccine test centres across France have routinely carried out a pre-vaccination blood test to see if people coming for their first injections are carriers of coronavirus antibodies. The test shows within 15 minutes if that person has had Covid-19, even if they were asymptomatic and did not know they were ill.
In the event of a positive test, the appointment for the second dose is cancelled, with that person considered fully protected after the ‘booster’ vaccine dose.
These people have been able to get a health pass in France and as a result an EU Covid Certificate which essentially shows they are considered to have the same level of immunity as someone who has had two doses.
The pass will say “vaccination 1 of 1” and “vaccine completed” to show that it’s a considered a full course.
And France is not the only country with this policy. Germany and other countries in Europe also consider someone to be fully vaccinated if they have had one jab after recovering from Covid.
This has led to some confusion over whether those in France who have been ill with coronavirus, recovered and had a booster injection can travel to the UK without having to quarantine.
The UK government says people “need to show an EU Digital COVID Certificate (EU DCC), showing you’ve had a full course of an EMA or Swissmedic-approved vaccine”.
And the British Embassy in Paris has confirmed news that is sure not to go down well – the vaccination status of people in that circumstance does not allow for quarantine-free travel to the UK.
In a Q&A on its Facebook page, the Embassy was pretty clear in its instructions.
“Q: I have only received one dose of a vaccine and am considered fully vaccinated in France after having previously recovered from COVID-19. Am I exempt from quarantine?
“A: Unfortunately, your vaccination status is not currently recognised for quarantine-free entry into the UK and therefore you will need to self-isolate on arrival and take day 2 and day 8 tests. Our Travel Advice always has the most up to date information, so please register for updates to be kept informed of any changes to this policy.”
There’s a similar message on the Facebook page of the British embassy in Spain.
“Please be aware that the UK does not recognise natural immunity for international travel at this time, but this will be kept under review. We know that the EU DCC does enable people to prove natural immunity. This is not currently accepted in the UK and quarantine and day 8 testing requirements will only be eased, for those who have been fully vaccinated in a relevant European country, with an EMA-approved vaccine,” it says.
The Local has asked the UK government whether there is a chance this position will change.