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Latest: How to get a Covid-19 booster dose appointment in France

The French government has said that you now only need to wait three months since your last injection before becoming eligible for a booster shot. With demand for appointments surging, read our guide on how to get your dose.

Vials of Pfizer vaccine in a French hospital. Demand for vaccines has been soaring in France. Read our guide on how to get an appointment ASAP.
Demand for vaccines has been soaring in France. Read our guide on how to get an appointment ASAP. (Photo by JEFF PACHOUD / AFP)

As part of the ongoing fight against Covid-19, the French government has said that you now only need to wait three months since your previous dose before getting a booster shot. This waiting time was previously set at four months. 

From January 15th, health passes for those over the age of 18 begin to be deactivated and made invalid if they have not received a Covid booster shot within seven months of their second dose of the vaccine. This rule already applies to people over the age of 65. 

There is a handy online tool to allow you to know when you need a booster dose HERE. If you use the TousAntiCovid app, the home-screen will change colour as you are approaching the date when you must get another shot. 

READ ALSO France sets 7 month limit on Covid health pass and opens up booster jabs to all

The government also plans to implement a vaccine pass, to replace the health pass, from mid-January. This would mean that negative Covid test results would not longer be able to be used as a replacement for a full course of vaccination as a means to enter various public venues. 

These new rules mean that there has been a surge in demand for vaccine appointments. Some people have reported lengthy waiting times and lamented the lack of availability of appointments near them.  

But there are some things you can do to speed up the process: 

Walk-in booster shots for the over 65s

On Monday 6th December Prime Minister Jean Castex announced that over 65s would be able to simply walk into vaccination centres without an appointment, to receive on-the-spot vaccination. But, again, anecdotal reports from over-65s trying to get their booster before their health pass becomes invalid around the country suggest that the reality on the ground is very different.

Officially, unvaccinated people can also receive their first shot without making an appointment. 

Moderna booster

Some over-30s attending some vaccine centres in France are being offered the unwanted Moderna vaccine, even if they have requested a dose of Pfizer on booking their appointment. Reports again suggest that some people are rejecting this option, prefering the Pfizer dose which is by far the most commonly injected vaccine against Covid-19 in France. 

The regular route

When it comes to actually booking appointments, the process is the same as it has always been.

You can book a vaccine appointment either a vaccine centre (although some of the larger ones have closed since the summer), your GP/family doctor or a pharmacy. You can book appointments for GPs and pharmacies in person or by phone, or you can book online for appointments at all three venue types.

READ MORE Who is now eligible for a Covid vaccine booster in France?

You can also book via DoctolibFrance’s most used booking app/website. It is important to check Doctolib regularly and under the availabilities section of the search tool, to tick dans les trois prochains jours (‘in the next three days’).

It’s worth checking doctolib regularly because new appointment slots are made available frequently.

All of these options are relatively straightforward but don’t get around the problem of soaring demand. 

ViteMaDose 

ViteMaDose is an app and website that allows you to search for the next available vaccine appointments based on your postcode, commune or département

It works by aggregating data from from most of the vaccine sites in France as well as online booking platforms, such as Doctolib

Once you have identified the next available slot in your area using the search bar, you must then book an appointment via the ‘regular route’ described above. 

Covidliste 

Covidliste is another app and website that sends you an alert when a vaccine appointment becomes available near you. It already has more than one million users. 

When a vaccine administrator finds that they have doses available, they contact Covidliste. The organisation then sends out an email to all of its subscribers (subscription is free) to let them know. By the end of the day, if doses are still available, the site will then send out a further alert via SMS. 

READ MORE Can you get a Covid vaccine booster without a French carte vitale?

The advantage of this site is that it allows you to directly accept an appointment via the booking link sent out to you by email/SMS. 

The analogue method 

It doesn’t hurt to ask you local pharmacist, either by phone or in-person, about when the next vaccine appointment is available in your area. 

Not all pharmacists and other vaccine administrators are hooked up to the booking websites, meaning that there may be doses waiting for you that are simply not listed online. The only way to know whether this is the case is by calling your pharmacy directly. 

Will boosters be effective against the new Omicron variant?

The French government insists that while booster shots do not entirely prevent infection from the Omicron variant, they do help to avoid people falling seriously ill following transmission.

“Vaccination remains at the heart of our strategy,” said Jean Castex on Monday.  “It prevents serious forms of Covid-19.”

According to the early laboratory research using blood serum from vaccinated people, a booster third dose generated around the same level of antibodies against Omicron as is seen after a second dose with other variants.

 

Member comments

  1. Our local pharmacy told us we couldn’t get an appointment until February. So (FYI), I asked the local Infirmieres and they have arranged an appointment in our local medical centre before Christmas – we live in the countryside

  2. so to update the health pass with the booster shot that I received two weeks ago, when I get to Paris do I just go to a pharmacy? and show them my updated CDC card? I already have the French health pass. thanks you

  3. Had the Pfizer booster, because Janssen does not do one, on Tuesday, since Wednesday not stopped pissing and shitting. No problem with the first vaccination, so thanks Castex👿

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TRAVEL NEWS

Paxlovid, tests and isolation: Essential Covid information for tourists in France

With travel opening up, many people are planning trips to France over the next few months, but the Covid pandemic has not gone away. Here are your questions answered on testing, isolation and medical treatment if you do fall sick while on holiday.

Paxlovid, tests and isolation: Essential Covid information for tourists in France

Travel rules

Covid-related travel rules have mostly been relaxed now but you will still need to show proof of being fully vaccinated at the French border. If you are not vaccinated you will need to show a negative Covid test – find the full breakdown of the rules HERE.

Testing

Once in France if you develop symptoms or you have been in contact with someone who has tested positive you will need to get a Covid test.

The good news is that testing is widely available in France, both for residents and tourists.

The easiest way to get a test is head to a pharmacy, most of which offer the rapid-result antigen test on a walk-in basis Tests are available to everyone who wants one, there is no need to fulfil any set criteria.

For full details on how to get a test, and some handy French vocab, click HERE.

The difference for tourists is that you will have to pay for your test, while residents get their costs reimbursed by the French state health system.

In the pharmacy you may be asked for your carte vitale – this is the health card that residents use to claim refunds. As a tourist you won’t have the card – you can still get the test, you will just need to pay for it. Costs vary between pharmacies but are capped at €22 for an antigen test or €54 for a PCR test.

Isolation

If your test is positive you are legally required to isolate, but how long your isolation period is depends on your vaccination stats – full details HERE.

Treatment

For most fully-vaccinated people without underlying health conditions the symptoms of Covid are fairly mild, but if you do become ill, here’s how to access medical help while in France.

Pharmacy – one of the first things you will notice about France is that pharmacies are everywhere, just look out for the green cross. As well as selling over-the-counter medication, pharmacies all have at least one fully-qualified pharmacist on the staff who can offer medical advice. 

Take advantage of pharmacists – they train for at least six years so they’re very knowledgeable and they’re easy to access by simply walking into the shop. In tourist areas it’s likely that they will speak English. Pharmacists can also signpost you to a nearby doctor if you need extra help.

Doctors – if you need to see a doctor, look out for a médecin généraliste (a GP or family doctor). There is no need to be registered with a doctor, simply call up and ask for an appointment if you need one. If you have a smartphone you can use the medical app Doctolib to find a généraliste in your area who speaks English. You will need to pay for your consultation – €25 is the standard charge and you pay the doctor directly using either cash or a debit card.

You may be able to claim back the cost later on your own health/travel insurance depending on the policy.

Ambulance – if you are very sick or have difficulty breathing you should call an ambulance – the number is 15. All non-residents are entitled to emergency treatment in France, whether or not you have insurance, but if you are admitted to hospital or have treatment you may need to pay later.

READ ALSO Emergency in France: Who to call and what to say

Paxlovid – several readers have asked whether the Covid treatment drug Paxlovid is available in France. It was licenced for use in February 2022 and is available on prescription from pharmacies, mainly for people with underlying health conditions or an impaired immune system. You can get a prescription from a medical practitioner.

The drug is reimbursed for French residents, but as a tourist you will have to pay.

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