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Reader question: Can I travel to France from Canada if I had a mixed-dose Covid vaccine?

Travel rules are different depending on whether you are vaccinated or not, but definitions of 'fully vaccinated' can be more complicated than it first appears.

Reader question: Can I travel to France from Canada if I had a mixed-dose Covid vaccine?
Photo: Cole Burston/AFP

Question: I’m Canadian and I’ve my two vaccine doses. I had Pfizer for the first and Moderna for the second – as is quite common in Canada – but I read that the French won’t accept this as being ‘fully vaccinated’ for travel purposes, is that right?

France’s travel rules differ depending on whether you are vaccinated or not, with only essential travel allowed for non-vaccinated travellers from countries on the orange list (like the UK).

Canada is on France’s green list, so anyone can travel, but if you’re not vaccinated you will need to show a negative Covid test before boarding a flight.

READ ALSO How does France’s traffic light system work for travel?

Once in France, you will need to show the health passport to access venues such as bars, restaurants, cinemas, tourist sites and long-distance train or bus travel – more info here.

So what does France say about mixed dose vaccines?

Having a mixture of AstraZeneca and either Pfizer or Moderna is common in France, since the country’s medical regulator changed its guidance on AstraZeneca usage in March and now recommends it only for the over 55s. Those under 55 who had already had a first injection of AstraZeneca before the guidance changed were offered either Pfizer or Moderna for their second dose, so many people have mixed dose vaccines including the country’s health minister Olivier Véran.

However, mixing Pfizer and Moderna is not common in France.

We asked the Health ministry whether this means that travellers vaccinated in this way are not considered fully vaccinated.

They replied: “France does indeed recognise vaccine regimens comprising one dose of AstraZeneca and one dose of an mRNA vaccine [such as Pfizer and Moderna] 

“Concerning the regimens comprising one dose of Pfizer and one of Moderna, the Haut Autorité de Santé has allowed this as a possibility in case of serious pressure on supplies, while expressing reservations as to their perfect interchangeability given the little data we have to date on this subject. Clinical trials were launched in June by the Paris hospitals group AP-HP.

“Nevertheless, this vaccine scheme is recognised as a ‘complete vaccination’ at the border.”

Therefore Canadian travellers who had this combination are recognised as vaccinated by French authorities.

They are not considered vaccinated by the UK government, however, which refuses to recognise any mixed dose vaccinations, so Canadians considering a trip to the UK should probably come to France instead (the pastries are better too).

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Travel in Europe: UK to scrap all Covid travel rules

The UK is set to scrap all Covid-19 travel restrictions in what the government described as a "landmark moment".

Travel in Europe: UK to scrap all Covid travel rules

Testing is no longer required for vaccinated travellers, but the UK government has announced that it will scrap all Covid-19 travel rules on Friday, March 18th.

“As one of the first major economies to remove all its remaining Covid-19 travel restrictions, this is a landmark moment for passengers and the travel and aviation sector,” said the Government in a press release. 

From 4am on March 18th:

  • Passengers going to the UK will no longer be required to fill out a Passenger Locator Form before travel;
  • Passengers who are not vaccinated will not be required to take a pre-departure Covid test, or a Day 2 test following arrival. Fully vaccinated travellers are already exempt from having to do this;
  • Hotel quarantine for travellers coming from ‘red list’ countries, of which there are currently none, will also be scrapped by the end of the month. 

“We will continue monitoring and tracking potential new variants, and keep a reserve of measures which can be rapidly deployed if needed to keep us safe,” said UK Health Minister Sajid Javid. 

The UK has lifted all Covid-related rules including mask rules and mandatory self-isolation if you test positive for Covid.

Some European countries still have Covid restrictions in place for unvaccinated people coming from the UK. 

Until March 18th

Until the new rules come into effect, all travellers are required to fill out a passenger locator form. 

Unvaccinated travellers are also required to take pre-departure test and a test on or before Day 2 following their arrival. 

The UK border officers will recognise proof of vaccination provided with an EU Covid Certificate.

For the UK “fully vaccinated” means 14 days after your final dose of a EMA/FDA or Swiss approved vaccine (Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson). 

After a period of confusion, the UK government says that it will accept mixed doses administered in the EU (eg one dose of AstraZeneca and one of Pfizer).

However people who have only had a single dose after previously recovering from Covid – which is standard practice in some European countries – are not accepted as vaccinated by the UK.