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Reader question: How can I get my Covid vaccine booster in France?

You may have read about third shots of the Covid vaccine to act as a booster - so what is the situation in France?

Reader question: How can I get my Covid vaccine booster in France?
Photo: Nicolas Tucat/AFP

Question: I keep reading about Covid booster shots – when and where can I get mine? I was vaccinated in February. 

The French independent medical regulator Haute Autorité de la santé (HAS) has recommended offering a third dose to over-65s as well as younger people at risk of developing severe forms of Covid, a wider programme than the over-80s originally proposed by the government.

Booking is now open, but only for those in eligible groups.

There is also a minimum of six months between second and third shots, so at present only those who had their first injection in January or February are eligible, which in reality restricts it to over 75s and those with long-term medical conditions.

Who can book?

In order to book an appointment now, you need to fulfil several criteria;

  • Be over the age of 65 or in a high risk group due to a severe medical condition
  • Have completed a full vaccination schedule. In most cases this means two doses, but it can also cover people who got the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine or those who are severely immunocompromised who received three doses initially (under medical advice)
  • Had a second or final vaccine dose at least six months ago
  • Have not had Covid – people who contracted the virus after their first or second dose do not need a booster dose, the HAS has ruled. In France, people who had previously had Covid get just one dose of the vaccine and are counted as ‘fully vaccinated’ for travel or health passport purposes (although not all countries recognise this for travel purposes) 

How to book?

If you are eligible you can book directly, there is no need to wait for an invitation.

Those who had vaccinations early on may have unhappy memories of long waits and unanswered phones in vaccination centres – in good news, the system has become a lot more efficient since then with a host of easy booking options available, so securing that third appointment should be less painful.

Booster shots are available from Wednesday, September 1st in vaccine centres, pharmacies and at some GPs.

There has also been discussion of combining Covid shots for those in eligible groups with the seasonal flu vaccination campaign, which begins in October, although no details about this have yet been released.

In addition to those who book directly, the government is also rolling out a programme of booster shots in the country’s Ehpad nursing homes, which Prime Minister Jean Castex said will start from September 13th.

What about the rest?

Whether booster shots will be offered to the under 65s is still under discussion.

Member comments

  1. We have booster appointments in 17 – Charente Maritime for over 65s. I’m not clear on if or how we pay for this. We don’t yet have cartes vitales. Hopefully the vaccination center will facilitate payment and not hold up the vaccine.

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France approves new vaccines for Covid Omicron sub-variants

France's health authority said Tuesday it had approved three new vaccines against the prevalent Omicron sub-variants of the Covid-19 virus, in a bid to prevent a jump in infections as colder weather approaches.

France approves new vaccines for Covid Omicron sub-variants

The so-called “bivalent: shots, approved by the European Medicines Agency earlier this month, target the BA.1, BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron variants, now responsible for the bulk of new cases since the outbreak began worldwide in early 2020.

French authorities are urging at-risk patients — including those over 60 or adults with pre-existing conditions — to get the bivalent vaccines as part of its booster campaign.

“The number of infections has again started rising in the past few days,” the HAS health authority said, noting that the BA.5 sub-variant was causing the most new cases.

The new vaccine targeting the highly contagious BA.4 and BA.5 types is made by Pfizer and BioNTech, while jabs from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna are for BA.1.