France begins administering Covid booster shots for over 65s

Appointments are now under way for people in eligible groups to get their booster shot of the Covid vaccine.

An elderly man receives a dose of the Pfizer-BioNtech Covid-19 vaccine, at a vaccination centre in Quimper, western France, on March 30, 2021. (Photo by Fred TANNEAU / AFP)
Photo: Fred Tanneau/AFP

The third dose of the vaccine is open to over 65s and those with long-term medical conditions – but only for people who had their second dose more than six months ago.

Since this covers for the moment only people who got their vaccines in January and February this will mostly concern the over 75s or those in a high-risk group due to severe medical conditions.

Booking opened on Monday with Wednesday, September 1st marking the first appointments.

Those who are eligible can book their appointment directly – there is no need to wait for an invitation – by phone or online platforms such as Doctolib.

Appointments will be available in vaccine centres and all booster shots given will be either Pfizer or Moderna, following the recommendation of the medical regulator Haut autorité de santé (HAS).

As well as people booking appointments directly, France will also begin a third vaccination campaign for residents of Ehpad nursing homes. Prime Minister Jean Castex has said this will begin from September 13th.

Who can book their booster now?

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 their 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) 

Booking can be done online or by phone – full details HERE.

Does this affect the health passport?

No, the health passport counts as ‘fully vaccinated’ anyone who has had either two doses, a single dose of Johnson & Johnson or had a single dose after recovering from Covid. This will not change for people in groups eligible for a booster shot.

“Whether you go for your booster or not, you will keep the benefit of the health pass,” said health minister Olivier Véran on August 26th.

What about other groups?

For the moment the government is prioritising those in the most vulnerable groups.

Initially the booster shot was envisaged for the over 80s, but this was expanded to over 65s on the advice of the HAS – although in reality the six-month limit means that most people getting their booster shot in the weeks to come will be in older age groups.

Whether the campaign will be expanded to the general population or not is still under debate.

Member comments

  1. To book the 3rd Covid vaccination on the Doctolib site, which I always use for booking our GP appointments, I was told to provide our country of birth selected from an automatic list that started with Afghanistan and ended with Zambia. But there were only 3 European countries (none of them ours) and the site would not allow me to tap in anything else. But I got an immediate response on the 0800 00 91 10 number and a charming lady (who made my day by telling me my voice sounded much younger than 83) had us booked in no time.

  2. We used the Doctolib site to book a third as Americans with a French address. No problem. We went to the vax site and received the vaccine. No problem. No charge. Just had to show our CDC cards. We received a new QR code for our passe sanitaire. Vive La France!

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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.