Macron: French Covid health pass for over-65s to depend on booster jab

French president Emmanuel Macron has announced an expansion of France's vaccine booster shot programme as the fifth wave of Covid hits Europe - and made boosters a requirement for a health pass for the over 65s.

French president Emmanuel Macron.
French president Emmanuel Macron. Photo: Bertrand Guay/AFP

Macron laid out his concerns about a rise in case numbers in France, and said the decision had been taken to expand the eligible groups for the Covid booster shot – and to link third doses to the health passport.

Over 65s and those in high risk groups are already eligible for a third dose of the Covid vaccine, but from the beginning of December this will be extended to all over 50s.

From December 15th, the health pass will cease to be valid for over 65s who who are eligible for the booster shot but have not had it.

He said: “From December 15th, you (over 65s) will need to provide proof of a booster shot to extend the validity of your health pass.”

The president also issued a call to the roughly 6 million unvaccinated French people to get the vaccine, saying: “Vaccinate yourself to protect yourselves. Vaccinate yourselves to be able to live normally.

“Being free, in a nation like France, implies responsibility and solidarity.”

Macron added: “The World Health Organisation has said that the 5th wave has begun in Europe.

“More than 30,000 new cases per day have been recorded in the UK and Germany.

“The 40 percent rise in the incidence rate and the increase in hospitalisations is a warning sign.”

In France cases are rising, but more slowly than many neighbouring countries. The current daily average of new cases in France is 6,900 – significantly lower than many other European countries but representing a 23 percent rise on the previous week.

Macron’s live TV address did not only focus on the pandemic, he also talked about the economy and the government’s plans to restart economic growth.

He also announced that France would begin building more nuclear reactors, and said that his flagship pension reform would not be brought in before the April 2022 elections.

In a plea for European solidarity he added: “Without the EU, we could not have had the vaccine so quickly.

“It is with them that we will work in the coming months to take on the challenges that we share.”

He concluded by telling the French people: “We have overcome an unprecedented mix of crises, from the pandemic to terrorism to geopolitical disorder and throughout it we have stayed profoundly human. 

“Let us not fear. Believe in us. Believe in France.”

Member comments

  1. I’m over 65 but not eligible for the 3rd jab til February ( ie 6 months after the 2nd jab ). Will my pass still be valid after Dec 15 ?

  2. Very worried about just how much influence Pfizer and other such companies have on our freedoms. Even the American CDC this week said there is a link between the “vaccine” and heart problems noted within young adults/ adolescents being jabbed. This should be cause for concern. Why isn’t it?

    1. Anthony, those are very rare cases and all of these patients have fully recovered. The risks one is exposed to by getting Covid-19 are far greater than those posed by rare cases of (for example) Myocarditis as side effect. I had Covid in spring 2020 and my sense of smell is still not back…
      Billions of doses have been administered globally by now and there have been no reports of drastic side effects in large numbers of recipients – so I guess it can be considered as pretty safe by now.
      Also, I’m very happy that companies like Biontech etc. have been able to develop vaccines so swiftly, otherwise our freedom would still be curtailed by lockdowns and curfews.

  3. Hi

    The booster is not showing up on the NHS app………..what will that mean for over 65s coming to France from UK, who have had their booster but it doesn’t appear on their app ?

  4. Over 65s and those in high risk groups are already eligible for a third dose of the Covid vaccine, but from the beginning of December this will be extended to all under 50s.

    Interesting, so if you’re between 50 and 65 you have to wait? Must it be over 50s?

  5. I am currently undergoing immunotherapy treatment and have been advised by the hospital not to have my booster jab until January when the treatment will be completed. Does that mean that I will lose my pass sanitaire, I am 76 years old?

  6. I am currently undergoing immunotherapy treatment and have been advised by the hospital not to have the booster jab until January. Does that mean that I will lose my pass sanitaire I am 76 years old?

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OPINION: France has two presidents – one is confident, the other weak and directionless

France has two Emmanuel Macrons: one is strangely depressed and directionless, the other confident and clear, writes John Lichfield. But which one will emerge in his second term as president?

OPINION: France has two presidents - one is confident, the other weak and directionless

There is a global Emmanuel Macron, confident and clear; and then there is a domestic Emmanuel Macron, who sometimes appears petulant and indecisive.

Global Macron is admired by many people outside France for his eloquence and his intelligence. He is also mocked and feared by some people abroad (especially in the Brexit camp in Britain) for his alleged pretentiousness and arrogance (in other words for his eloquence and intelligence).

For Global Macron, it has been a good couple of weeks. 

His speech to the United Nations General Assembly this week was the best given by any world leader.

He placed the Ukraine war in a sweeping, global and historical context, lambasting allegedly “neutral” countries for failing to stand up for the core UN principles of national sovereignty and territorial integrity. The “fake” non-aligned countries were, he said, betraying not just the values of the UN but their own interests.

Macron has also been word perfect in his tributes to the Queen.

He obtained little credit for that fact from the hardest-line,  professional Macron-haters in the UK media. They preferred to concentrate on the fact that he wore posh trainers during an informal visit last weekend to the enormous queues of people waiting to file past Her Majesty’s coffin in Westminster.

King Charles has, however, seized on this opportunity to improve relations between France and Britain which Liz Truss had ignored. After a dinner with Macron in London last Sunday, the new king is reliably reported to have decided that his first state visit next year should be to France.

So much for the global Macron.

The other Macron, the domestic president, is newly re-elected but strangely weak and directionless.

His popularity in opinion polls is fading. He seems unable to come to terms with his loss of his parliamentary majority in the legislative elections in June. He has yet to give a clear road-map for his second term to his newly renamed Renaissance party and their centrist allies.

(REMEMBER: You can listen to John Lichfield discuss the crisis on the French left and the mixed fortunes of Emmanuel Macron in the latest episode of our Talking France podcast below)

He has alternated in recent weeks between Blood, Sweat and Tears warnings to the French people that they face a cold and difficult winter and a generous (but reluctant) decision to extend domestic energy subsidies for another full year.

He has alarmed some of his own allies by raising the possibility that he might use his emergency constitutional powers to push pension reform through a divided National Assembly.

At the same time, he has pressed ahead with his vague plan for a grandiloquently-named Conseil national de la Refondation (National refoundation council). This body is supposed to find common ground between Left and Right, unions and bosses, to “refound” the French welfare state created just after the 1939-45 war.

On the one hand,  Macron says that he wants to find a new social consensus for the 21st century. On the other hand, he says that he wants to charge, without negotiation, into the social and political minefield of pension reform.

In a briefing with journalists earlier this month, the President suggested that he could avoid a lengthy negotiation with unions and the parliament to increase the standard French retirement age (now in theory 62). Changes in system could be tacked onto the annual social security budget next month and then pushed through the Assembly, in effect, by decree.

This week, the government back-pedalled. No decision has yet been taken, they say. One of Macron’s principal allies, the veteran centrist leader, François Bayrou, warned that any attempt to impose such a transformation on French lives by force would be a calamity.

How can we explain the two Macrons?

Partly, they reflect the constitutional powers given to French presidents. On international affairs and European affair, Macron can go largely his own way. On domestic policy, if he has no majority in parliament, his powers are limited.

I believe, however, that the problem runs deeper. There have been reports for months that Macron suffered after his re-election in April from a “drop in energy” or a period of depression.

The second half of his first term had been brutally occupied with non-stop management of the Covid and Ukraine crises. His attempts at mediating with Vladimir Putin had been a discouraging failure.

After his victory over Marine Le Pen, Macron drifted for weeks, delaying his decisions on a new Prime Minister and a new government. He was strangely absent from the parliamentary campaign in June (well below the limits imposed by his position as head of state).

Macron’s distraction contributed to his failure to win a new parliamentary majority; his lack of a majority has, I believe, compounded his mood of indecision and depression.

What to do with five years of a second term? Should he accept that his only role is now crisis-management? After all there are crises enough to manage.

Is the career of the self-proclaimed revolutionary of 2017 finished at the age of 44?  He cannot run again in 2027. He faces the prospect of five years of managerialism and drift while attention switches to his possible successors, from Edouard Philippe in the centre to Marine Le Pen on the Far Right.

“Macron is a magician who has lost his wand,” says one pro-Macron parliamentarian. “He’s still searching  for a way forward, a sense of direction. In short, he has the blues.”

By comparison with French politics, international crises are simple. Macron has clear ideas about the place of France and Europe in the world. He can express himself, both off the cuff and in set-piece speeches, with elegance and intelligence.

Macron has had no other position in elected politics than President of the Republic. He has no background as local or parliamentary politician. The prospect of five years of grinding negotiation to achieve quarter-baked reforms is, I believe, appalling to him.

Hence, his domestic zig-zagging.

He faces three choices in the next few months. He can accept a role as a manager of crises and minimal reforms; he can risk a Yellow Vest-type revolt by using, maybe abusing, his limited constitutional powers to impose change.

Or he can hope for an opportunity in the first half of next year to call a new parliamentary election.

Which way will he go? I don’t know. Nor, I suspect, does Emmanuel Macron.