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COVID-19 HEALTH PASS

EXPLAINED: How France’s vaccine pass works

France's health pass is now a vaccine pass. But what does this actually mean and how does it affect you?

A policeman checks the Covid-19 health pass  in France. The government plans to transform the health pass into a vaccine pass by the end of January.
A policeman checks the Covid-19 health pass in France. The government plans to transform the health pass into a vaccine pass by the end of January. (Photo by JEAN FRANCOIS MONIER / AFP)

The French vaccine pass entered into effect on Monday, January 24th.

What is the vaccine pass? 

The vaccine pass (pass vaccinal) replaced the health pass (pass sanitaire). 

In brief, it requires proof of vaccination to take part in many everyday activities and the French government has been open about the fact that the intention is to push more people into getting fully vaccinated.

Within a month of the announcement in December about the introduction of the new pass, 1 million adults had a first-dose vaccination, according to Prime Minister Jean Castex.

What does it mean? 

Since the summer of 2021, anyone in France must hold a valid health pass to enter various public venues such as cinemas, cafés, bars, restaurants, gyms, leisure centres, museums, concerts, large gatherings, sports matches, long-distance train carriages and to access healthcare venues as a visitor or non-emergency patient. 

The health pass was valid if users met any one of the following requirements: full vaccination against Covid-19; proof of recent recovery from Covid-19; or evidence of having tested negative for the virus within the previous 24-hours. 

For a vaccine pass, negative tests are not accepted.

Instead you must present either

  • Proof of full vaccination (including a booster if applicable, fell details below)
  • A certificate of recent recovery from Covid – full details on how to get that HERE
  • An attestation de contre-indication – this is a certificate stating that you cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons. This must conform to the French QR code format – full details HERE

How does it work?

The vaccine pass still uses the TousAntiCovid app. So for fully vaccinated people (90 percent of the population of over 12s) nothing changes – you continue to show proof of vaccination either on the app or on paper to enter any health pass venue.

There are some differences though;

The vaccine pass applies only to people aged 16 and over, while the health pass is required for over 12s. Children aged between 12 and 15 can continue to use the health pass by showing proof of a negative Covid test taken with the previous 24 hours.

For people needing to access non-emergency medical care, or attending a health or social establishment (such as a nursing home) as a visitor, there is still the option of showing a negative test if they are not vaccinated.

The pass is required for inter-regional public transport (trains, long-distance buses and domestic flights) but a negative Covid test can be shown instead if there are “imperative reasons of a family or health nature” that an unvaccinated traveller needs to make the journey – such as going to visit a dying relative.

In order to encourage people to get their vaccine, those people who have recently had a first dose will be able to use a combination of their first dose certificate with a negative Covid test.

Unvaccinated people who receive a first dose between January 20th and February 15th will be able to use a combination of their first dose and a negative Covid test in order to access vaccine pass venues. Those who get the first dose after February 15th will have to wait until seven days after their second dose in order to use the vaccine pass.

In order to combat vaccine pass fraud, staff in health pass venues such as waiters can now request ID to confirm that the customer is presenting their own health pass. This was the subject of considerable controversy – normally in France only an employee of the state, such as a police officer, can request ID – and under the bill as passed ID can only be requested “when there are serious reasons to believe that the document presented is not linked to the person presenting it”.

What counts as fully vaccinated? 

You count as fully vaccinated in France if you have received two doses of AstraZeneca, Pfizer or Moderna vaccines more than 7 days ago, or a single dose of Janssen 28 days ago.

If you have previously had Covid, a single dose of AstraZeneca, Pfizer or Moderna is accepted.

Boosters

If you had your second dose more than seven months ago (or more than four months from February 15th) you will need to have a booster shot in order to keep your ‘fully vaccinated’ status.

If you have already had the booster, the gap between your second and third doses does not matter.

If you had Covid after getting two shots but before you could get the booster, you can use the positive test result in lieu of a booster shot.

The above definition, including the requirement for booster shots, applies to tourists, visitors and people vaccinated outside France. 

For full details on who counts as ‘fully vaccinated’, click here.

What about children? 

The health pass already applies to children aged 12-17.

The vaccine pass, however, will only apply to those aged 16 and over, with 12-15 year-olds able to keep showing negative test results – however these cannot be more than 24 hours old.

The health pass is not required for schools.

What if I am just visiting France?

The vaccine pass is required for everyone in France, even if they are only visiting.

Boosters are also required for visitors in order to keep their pass activated. 

What if I was vaccinated overseas? 

If you were vaccinated within the EU, you will have been issued with a EU Digital Covid Certificate with is fully compatible with the French health pass and will also be compatible with a vaccine pass.  

For non-EU nationals, you may be required to ask at a pharmacy to access a vaccine equivalency certificate (unless you are from the UK in which case showing proof on your NHS vaccination app is fine). 

Vaccines approved by the European Medicines Agency (Pfizer, Moderna, Astrazenca and Janssen/Johnson & Johnson) are all valid in France. 

Vaccines approved by the World Health Organisation but not by the EMA (Covaxin, Sinopharm and Sinovac) are seen as semi-valid for use in France. This means that if you have had two doses of any of these vaccines, you will need to have a single dose of an EMA approved vaccine in order to be considered fully vaccinated.

Sputnik and other vaccines are not recognised in France. You will need to have a full course of EMA approved vaccines in order to use the vaccine pass. 

If you tested positive for Covid in an EU country, you can currently scan the result (provided you have a paper copy or QR code) into your TousAntiCovid app. This is the equivalent of receiving one dose of vaccine. 

If your positive result comes from a non-EU country, you will not be able to scan the code into the app. The rules state that non-EU positive results are not accepted as a vaccine-substitute in France, but some readers have reported taking their results to either a vaccine centre or a pharmacy and having them added to the app by staff there, although this is not the official policy.

In order to enter the country, you can show a vaccination certificate from any country and a booster is not yet required to enter France. 

Member comments

  1. Please clarify: My husband and I have both been fully vaccinated (2 vaccinations) and both have had recent BOOSTER shots. We are frequent travelers to France; we own 47.5 % of an apartment in Paris on I’ll Saint Louis, and frequently rent for two or more weeks in Villefranche-sur-Mer, near Nice.
    We also have an extended Family living near Montpelier. We were lucky to visit not only Paris, but also Villefranche, and even Corsica, another of our favorites this summer and early Autun.! We took 2 separate trips from the USA and spent a total of close to 8 weeks. We return to France in January from 12/01/2022 to 31/01/2022. For 35 years I have also escorted trips to France and have written many itineraries for friends and family members as well as traveling with them.
    Would our authorized CDC card suffice? We are francophiles and support France not only monetarily but in so much in our lives with our advice and caring! Thank you for your help in advance. Donna Rissone

    1. I’m afraid despite all the francophile stuff, you’re still just a foreigner over here and, even worse, not even EU so I think you best check with your State Department.

    2. Yes, definitely check with the state department. No one else can really know the right answers in these changing times. The length of time you spend in France won’t have any impact on vaccination status. It may be as simple as converting your CDC card to a pass sanitaire, but then again France is proposing going to a vaccine pass versus pass sanitaire..with all the daily changes in travel and who can and can’t enter you’ll need state department advice.

      As someone else said – despite the frequency you visit France, you’re still a foreigner without a Carte de Sejour or some other type of id card showing you live in France.

  2. We have Canadian vaccination pass and the QR code cannot be read by the TousAntiCovid app. We went to one of the pharmacies listed on the government site and the pharmacist converted our Canadian vaccination status to an EU pass sanitaire immediately for us. It did however cost us 35 Euros each.

    1. Thank you , I have a trip planned in February and have all 3 shots but am unable to open the green pass website now. This gives me an alternative.

      1. Did the same with mine earlier this week. Dropped off my Canadian certificate and a few hours later picked up my French equivalent (They were busy so asked for !e to come back). Cost was 36€

    2. Could someone please specify the “government site” that lists pharmacies willing/able to convert a Canadian vaccination certificate to a French vaccine pass.

  3. It will be interesting to see what window they give for us to get the booster shot. I am now eligible (as of this morning) and have been trying to book an appointment for the past week in anticipation of this. I did manage to get a slot for the 28th January so am hoping that falls within whatever time they allot us to get the shot.

  4. If you have recently recovered from Covid are you not entitled to a pass? My French doctor refused to vaccinate until 6 months had passed. I assume this still applies? This is what the 2G system entails but not mentioned in the article.

  5. What if an American gets his/her booster shot 6 or 7 months after the second dose and then travels to France? Could he/she be eligible to get the French vaccination pass?

  6. I travel to France next week. have had my second jab within the last 6 months, but not had a booster yet, will my vaccine pass still be approved?

  7. I am traveling to France Feb 5th. I am a US resident but arriving from Switzerland. I was in the Novavax clinical trial (now EMA approved) in the US (both doses in January 2021) – I have had no boosters but contracted Covid (in the US) and tested positive via a PCR on Nov 28th, 2021 (have documentation w/ QR code). I also have written document from primary care stating my positive PCR and I am cleared to travel. will I be able to get a vaccine equivalency certificate?

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COVID-19 ALERT

Covid-19: European summer holidays threatened by rise of subvariants

A resurgence of Covid-19 cases in Europe, this time driven by new, fast-spreading Omicron subvariants, is once again threatening to disrupt people's summer plans.

Covid-19: European summer holidays threatened by rise of subvariants

Several Western European nations have recently recorded their highest daily case numbers in months, due in part to Omicron sub-variants BA.4 and BA.5.

The increase in cases has spurred calls for increased vigilance across a continent that has relaxed most if not all coronavirus restrictions.

The first resurgence came in May in Portugal, where BA.5 propelled a wave that hit almost 30,000 cases a day at the beginning of June. That wave has since started to subside, however.

READ ALSO: KEY POINTS: German Health Ministry lays out autumn Covid plan

Italy recorded more than 62,700 cases on Tuesday, nearly doubling the number from the previous week, the health ministry said. 

Germany meanwhile reported more than 122,000 cases on Tuesday. 

France recorded over 95,000 cases on Tuesday, its highest daily number since late April, representing a 45-percent increase in just a week.

Austria this Wednesday recorded more than 10,000 for the first time since April.

READ ALSO: Italy’s transport mask rule extended to September as Covid rate rises

Cases have also surged in Britain, where there has been a seven-fold increase in Omicron reinfection, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The ONS blamed the rise on the BA.4 and BA.5 variants, but also said Covid fell to the sixth most common cause of death in May, accounting for 3.3 percent of all deaths in England and Wales.

BA.5 ‘taking over’

Mircea Sofonea, an epidemiologist at the University of Montpellier, said Covid’s European summer wave could be explained by two factors.

READ ALSO: 11,000 new cases: Will Austria reintroduce restrictions as infection numbers rise?

One is declining immunity, because “the protection conferred by an infection or a vaccine dose decreases in time,” he told AFP.

The other came down to the new subvariants BA.4 and particularly BA.5, which are spreading more quickly because they appear to be both more contagious and better able to escape immunity.

Olivier Schwartz, head of the virus and immunity unit at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, said BA.5 was “taking over” because it is 10 percent more contagious than BA.2.

“We are faced with a continuous evolution of the virus, which encounters people who already have antibodies — because they have been previously infected or vaccinated — and then must find a selective advantage to be able to sneak in,” he said.

READ ALSO: Tourists: What to do if you test positive for Covid in France

But are the new subvariants more severe?

“Based on limited data, there is no evidence of BA.4 and BA.5 being associated with increased infection severity compared to the circulating variants BA.1 and BA.2,” the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said last week.

But rising cases can result in increasing hospitalisations and deaths, the ECDC warned.

Could masks be making a comeback over summer? (Photo by OSCAR DEL POZO / AFP)

Alain Fischer, who coordinates France’s pandemic vaccine strategy, warned that the country’s hospitalisations had begun to rise, which would likely lead to more intensive care admissions and eventually more deaths.

However, in Germany, virologist Klaus Stohr told the ZDF channel that “nothing dramatic will happen in the intensive care units in hospitals”.

Return of the mask? 

The ECDC called on European countries to “remain vigilant” by maintaining testing and surveillance systems.

“It is expected that additional booster doses will be needed for those groups most at risk of severe disease, in anticipation of future waves,” it added.

Faced with rising cases, last week Italy’s government chose to extend a requirement to wear medical grade FFP2 masks on public transport until September 30.

“I want to continue to recommend protecting yourself by getting a second booster shot,” said Italy’s Health Minister Roberto Speranza, who recently tested positive for Covid.

READ ALSO: Spain to offer fourth Covid-19 vaccine dose to ‘entire population’

Fischer said France had “clearly insufficient vaccination rates” and that a second booster shot was needed.

Germany’s government is waiting on expert advice on June 30 to decide whether to reimpose mandatory mask-wearing rules indoors.

The chairman of the World Medical Association, German doctor Frank Ulrich Montgomery, has recommended a “toolbox” against the Covid wave that includes mask-wearing, vaccination and limiting the number of contacts.

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