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Reader question: Can I get a Covid booster dose whilst visiting France?

With governments around the world stressing the need to get a Covid booster jab as cases soar some readers have been asking us whether they can get it whilst in France on holiday or at their second home.

Health worker prepares a booster dose of Moderna vaccine. Tourists will struggle to access booster doses in France.
Health worker prepares a booster dose of Moderna vaccine. Tourists will struggle to access booster doses in France. (Photo by GEORGES GOBET / AFP)

I plan to visit France in January at the same time as I am supposed to get a booster shot in my home country. Will I be able to get this dose at a vaccination site in France? Do they check your nationality? 

You don’t need to be a French national to get vaccinated. You don’t even need a carte vitale, a card which gives residents access to the French health system. 

But in theory, you do need to have proof that you officially live in France to access a booster shot. 

This even applies if you are a national of an EU country like Ireland and carry an EHIC card. 

The French Public Service website declares: “A foreigner or homeless person can get vaccinated in a vaccination centre even if they don’t have a carte vitale“. 

READ ALSO: Can you get a booster dose in France without a carte vitale?

But since this guidance was published, France’s social security website Ameli clarified that this rule applied only to those who are officially living in France and that tourists or people on short stays in France were not included and the cost of the vaccination would not be covered by state health insurance.

In order to get vaccinated without a carte vitale, you must bring some proof of ID, ideally your residency permit and proof of your French address such as a utility bill.

Although booking an appointment online without a carte vitale pay prove problematic. If you wanted to get a booster dose specifically, you would also need to bring proof of having previously received vaccinations as is the case for all those who get a third jab in France.

There are no doubt individual cases where tourists or non-residents on short stays in France have managed to get an initial Covid vaccination or booster shot perhaps with the help of locals or friendly pharmacists.

But ultimately, if you are keen to get a booster dose but will be in France at the time when your shot is due, the wisest thing is either get your dose upon your return to your home country or reschedule your trip. 

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French parliament blocks return of the health pass for international travel

France’s new government has suffered an early setback as Parliament blocked a key part of the new Covid protocol bill, removing a clause that could have seen the return of the health pass at the French border.

French parliament blocks return of the health pass for international travel

The veille et de sécurité sanitaire bill is a roadmap for how the government intends to handle the Covid situation after the current health state of emergency ends on July 31st. 

The proposed legislation had provided for the possibility, if required, to restore the health pass for travel in and out of France, meaning travellers over the age of 12 would again have to show proof they have been vaccinated against the virus, have a recent negative PCR test, or have sufficient immunity after recently contracting the virus, in order to be allowed to enter France.

But, during a heated first reading – the atmosphere in the chamber was likened to a football match – MPs voted to remove the key article on the return of the health pass for travellers entering France from other countries.

The modified bill was adopted by 221 votes to 187 and 24 abstentions – mostly by MPs from the left – in the final vote on Tuesday night. 

The bill – which in its current form merely allows authorities to continue to collect health data on screening tests – must now go to the Senate.

“The times are serious,” Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne said on Twitter, as she promised to “fight for the spirit of responsibility to prevail in the Senate.”

Health Minister François Braun also promised to “fight” in the Senate to restore the removed article to the bill, which he said had been “emptied of part of its content”. 

On July 8th, France passed 150,000 Covid-19 related deaths since the start of the pandemic in 2020. 

The country has seen a spike in infections since the end of June, due to the presence of the highly contagious Omicron and subvariants.

National health agency Santé Publique France reported around 120,000 infections per day over the week.

More than 1,000 patients with Covid are in intensive care, while over 17,000 remain in hospital.

France’s current health rules specify the use of the health pass only for hospitals and nursing homes – it is no longer in use for everyday venues like bars, restaurants, gyms or cinemas.

Masks are “strongly recommended” on public transport, but are only compulsory in hospitals and health establishments.

International arrivals from certain countries are required to show proof of either vaccination or a recent negative test, but most of the world is now on France’s ‘green’ list of countries with minimal travel restrictions.