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Reader question: I’ve only had one vaccine dose in France after Covid recovery so what are my travel options?

In France the vaccination policy is that if you have previously had Covid and recovered, you only need a single dose of the vaccine - but not all countries accept this as 'fully vaccinated', leading to problems travelling.

Reader question: I've only had one vaccine dose in France after Covid recovery so what are my travel options?
One little prick is not enough for the UK. Photo: Martin Bureau/AFP

Question: I have had Covid and recovered, so I only got a single dose of Pfizer. In France I am counted as fully vaccinated and I can use the health passport with no problems, but I want to travel to see family in the UK and it seems that they don’t accept this. What should I do?

Although the UK has finally agreed to recognise as “fully vaccinated” those people who had mixed dose vaccines in EU countries, it seems there is no change for recovered Covid patients who had a single dose.

The UK rules state: “If you were vaccinated with a 2 dose vaccine (such as Moderna or Pfizer) you must have had both doses to be considered fully vaccinated. This applies in all cases, even if you have recently recovered from COVID-19 and have natural immunity. Those who have had COVID-19 and have only had one dose of a 2 dose vaccine must follow the rules for unvaccinated arrivals.”

The Local has asked for clarity on whether this is likely to change, but this does not seem to be included in the relaxation of UK rules in October.  Those rules state: “You must have had a complete course of an approved vaccine at least 14 days before you arrive in England.” So in other words two doses of Pfizer, Moderna or AstraZeneca.

Those who had this type of vaccination only really have four options, and none of them are perfect.

Quarantine

The British rules as read at present state that you must quarantine. This quarantine can be done at home or at the home of a friend or relative, but you must stay indoors for 10 days after arrival with ‘Day 1’ beginning the day after you arrive.

In addition to this you must pay for two sets of post-arrival tests – a Day 2 test and a Day 8 test – which are likely to set you back more than £100.

If you are staying for less than 10 days you must quarantine for the length of your stay and must still pay for both the Day 2 and the Day 8 test – even if you leave before Day 8.

You have the option of paying extra for a Day 5 test and ending your quarantine early, although be warned that you can only end the quarantine when you get the result of the Day 5 test, not on Day 5 itself, and some travellers have reported long waits to get their results and be able to leave quarantine.

Get an extra vaccine dose in France

In order to be considered fully vaccinated under UK travel rules, we know some people in France are resorting to getting a second dose of the vaccine.

The Local asked the French health ministry if this was possible and were told that it was not officially considered necessary.

However several readers have reported being able to get an extra vaccine by simply booking an appointment at a vaccine centre and explaining their situation to staff there.

There are no reported health concerns about having a second dose of vaccine when you have already had Covid, indeed in some countries this is the official policy.

Travel anyway 

Most checking of vaccine certificates is done in France before you board your transport, and staff at airports, ports etc use the TousAntiCovid vérif app, which simply checks whether you are ‘fully vaccinated’ or not. Since Covid recovery plus one dose is fully vaccinated as far as France is concerned, you would show up as validé on their database.

However there is a potential risk.

To enter the UK you also have to fill in the Passenger Locator Form which requires you to declare that you are fully vaccinated with two doses.

According to the UK rules anyone found to have lied on their form is guilty of a criminal offence and faces a fines of up to £10,000 or a jail term (although this has never been tested).

Don’t go

This is not much help to people who have loved ones in the UK who they are desperate to see, we know.

But if you’re looking at travel for leisure or tourism purposes, you can go anywhere in the EU or Schengen zone and your French vaccination status will be recognised. We hear Italy is nice. 

Are you affected by this issue? Get in touch with The Local and we will raise your concerns with the UK authorities – contact us at [email protected]

Member comments

  1. Hi there,

    Do you know if this is still the policy in regards to the most recent rule changes? If people from the UK have had a single vaccine then recovered from Covid, are they classed as fully vaccinated when entering France?

    Thank you

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TOURISM

What to know when visiting France’s lavender fields this summer

Known affectionately as 'blue gold,' France’s lavender fields are a popular tourist attraction every year. Here is what you need to know about visiting them:

What to know when visiting France's lavender fields this summer

Lavender is the “soul of Provence,” the French region where the fields can be found. Like wine, lavender was brought to France around 2,000 years ago by the Romans. The flower is the emblem of ‘Haute Provence’ regional identity, though the fields stretch from just outside of Nice almost all the way up to Valence, and they are not fully exclusive to France.

Even the washerwomen, those whose job it was to clean clothes and linen, were referred to as les lavandières in France. 

The flowers, which can be found mainly in two species in Provence, have several uses – as oils for cooking and bathing, as a perfume for soaps, and even as an antiseptic for healing wounds and scars.

The lavender essential oil that comes from Provence is even an AOP (L’Appellation d’origine protégée) in France. 

When is the best time to see the fields?

Typically, the lavender flowers from around mid-June to early-to-mid August. However, depending on the weather, especially if there is a drought or hotter temperatures, the lavender might flower sooner than normal, which is likely the case for this year.

This is unfortunately also a side effect of climate change, which might be pushing up the lavender flowering season.

Where should I go?

The Valensole plateau is perhaps the most famous place to go for lavender fields. Speckled with several small Provencal towns, the area is beautiful, with a mountainous backdrop in the distance. If you go here, you might also be able to see the sunflower fields too.

Sault is perhaps a bit less known, partially because due to its altitude, the lavender typically flowers a bit later.

It is still a great place to go see the fields, and every year the town hosts a Lavender Festival in August. Walking (or cycling) between the villages (Aurel, Saint-Trinit and Saint-Christol) is very manageable.

This is not too far from the Sénanque Abbey, a medieval 12th century abbey which is surrounded by lavender fields. You might notice some small stone houses called bories in the fields, which were historically used for field workers.

Luberon Valley is another location that comes highly recommended. In the area, there is a regional national park, home to rosé wines, castles (chateaux) and charming villages, like Gordes, a stunning hilltop village.

Here you can also find the Musée de la Lavande, if you are looking to learn more about harvesting, producing and distilling lavender, its industry, and some interesting regional history.

How to get there?

You can take a TGV train to Aix-en-Provence or Avignon, or rent a car. With a car, you can also enjoy the several scenic routes that allow you to see the fields from the roads.

What else is there to do while in the region?

The area is also known for its rosé wine, so you could take the opportunity to go visit some vineyards or spend some time wine-tasting. 

In the summer months, the south of France can get quite warm. If you are looking to go swimming or enjoy the water, the Gorges du Verdon are not too far away. Though a bit of a tourist hotspot, the canyon is a beautiful and a wonderful place for paddling along in a canoe.

If you’re a fan of hiking, you can always go for a (light) hike along the Ochre Trail near Roussillon. Here, there are two marked paths that will take you through sunset-colored red and yellow cliffs in an old quarry.

Words of Wisdom

Unless you have been given express permission, do not pick the lavender, as this is the farmer’s livelihood. You can always buy a bouquet from nearby souvenir shops for your photo shoots! 

Also, stick to the paths that exist to avoid trampling any crops, and of course do not litter in the fields. 

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