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Can tourists aged over 65 still use France’s health pass?

Health pass scanned
A health pass is scanned. Photo: Pascal Pochard Casablanca/AFP
The French government has announced that from December it will begin deactivating the health passes of those aged over 65 who haven't got their booster - so what does this mean for older visitors to France?

In the push to get as many people as possible protected with booster shots this winter, the French government has announced that the health passes of people who are eligible for the vaccine but have not taken it up will be automatically deactivated.

This policy comes into force from December 15th and for the moment concerns only one group of people – those over the age of 65 for whom six months and five weeks have passed since their second Covid vaccine.

Since people become eligible for the jab six months after their second dose, this in effect gives over 65s a five week window to get their booster if they are to keep using the vaccination certificate for the health pass.

Other groups do qualify for a booster in France – including those with health conditions, health workers, family members of people with serious health problems and, from December 1st, over 50s – but for the moment the health pass deactivation only concerns over 65s.

READ ALSO Who is eligible for a Covid booster in France

But while those vaccinated in France can access a third dose in order to keep the pass, what about visitors from other countries that are either not offering booster shots or which don’t integrate them into their health passes?

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Vaccinated in EU/schengen zone

France is part of the EU digital vaccine programme, which means those vaccinated in an EU or Schengen zone country can use their own domestic pass or vaccination certificate in France, since all QR codes are compatible. 

Most EU countries are offering boosters and in general the policy around vaccines is broadly similar around the Bloc. But there are some differences in policy and in this case, as long as your own country counts you as ‘fully vaccinated’ you will be accepted as such in France.

This works the other way around too – for example Switzerland has never used the AstraZeneca vaccine in its own vaccination programme, but people vaccinated with AstraZeneca in France are accepted as ‘fully vaccinated’ in Switzerland, because their French code says they are.

Vaccinated in the UK 

The UK is also offering boosters to priority groups including over 65s and has been for some time. 

The NHS app is now accepted in France and can also be integrated with the French TousAntiCovid app. NHS certificates for the booster shot did not at first contain QR codes, but the UK government has now announced that all booster shots given in England are now integrated into the NHS app, with Wales set to follow on November 29th. The devolved government of Scotland has not so far made an announcement on this. 

Vaccinated outside the EU/Schengen zone or UK 

For those vaccinated in other non-EU countries, obtaining the relevant codes from the French health pass has been a difficult process, with four different systems in place since the summer.

The most recent system involves waiting until arrival in France, and then taking their vaccination certificate to a pharmacy and getting the QR code required for the French health pass.

EXPLAINED How visitors from outside the EU can access the French health pass

Countries outside the EU have wildly differing policies on administering boosters, however the French government still defines ‘fully vaccinated’ for non-EU travellers as the following;

  • Vaccinated with a vaccine accepted by the European Medicines Agency (Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca or John & Johnson/Janssen)
  • At least 28 days after the single shot Johnson & Johnson/Janssen
  • At least seven days after the second shot of Pfizer, Moderna or AstraZeneca
  • At least seven days after a single shot of Pfizer, Moderna or AstraZeneca in the case of people recovered from Covid

Boosters are only required in travel terms for people who were vaccinated with Sinopharm or SinoVac vaccines, which are not yet approved by the EMA. In this case, people who have those vaccines plus a booster dose of either Pfizer or Moderna are accepted as fully vaccinated seven days after the booster shot.

Other options

Unlike some parts of Austria and Germany which have exchanged the health pass for a vaccine pass, the French pass can for the moment still be used with a negative Covid test.

Those who either are not vaccinated or whose home vaccination certificate will not be accepted for the French pass, can take a Covid test in France and, if negative, use the result to access the health pass for 72 hours.

READ ALSO How tourists and visitors can get a Covid test in France

Although the official policy is that only EU/Schengen vaccination certificates are accepted in France, we have also heard anecdotal evidence that other certificates, particularly the American CDC card, is accepted by some bars and restaurants.

Changes

Policy in this area can change rapidly. At present the deactivation affects only over 65s, but from December 1st over 50s in France are eligible for a booster, so it seems likely that the same policy will be extended to them in the future.

For all the latest, keep an eye on our Travelling to France section.


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