Reader question: Will my health pass deactivate if I can’t get a booster because I caught Covid?

All adults will soon need a booster dose of Covid vaccine if they are to continue using the French health pass, but what's the situation if you caught Covid?

Health worker prepares a booster dose in France.
Health worker prepares a booster dose in France. Here's what you need to do if you have already been infected. (Photo by GEORGES GOBET / AFP)

Question: I was booked to get my booster but then I caught Covid now. I’m recovered now but they say I can’t get a booster at the moment – so how do I keep my health pass activated?

As more and more of us catch the virus, many of you have been asking whether or not getting infected means that you have to get a booster dose to continue using the health pass – something that is required if you want to access venues like bars, restaurants, museums and if you want to use long-distance trains.

As a general rule, the French government considers one bout of Covid as the equivalent to receiving one dose of vaccine. But the true answer to this question depends on what point in the vaccination course you were infected and what kind of vaccine you received. 

Pfizer, Moderna, Astrazeneca

If you were infected before getting vaccinated you receive just a single dose of the double-dose vaccines (Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca) and can then get a booster on the normal schedule.

Booster – If, however, you received two doses of vaccine and then caught Covid (the case for many people at the moment), you become eligible for a booster dose three months after infection – you will then be considered fully vaccinated with a booster.

If you do not receive a booster dose within seven months of your infection, your health pass will expire.

Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) 

If you received a Janssen vaccine, then caught Covid less than 15 days later, you should receive a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine four weeks after infection. After receiving this additional dose, you become eligible for a booster dose three months after your second injection. You will be considered fully vaccinated, with a booster. 

If you received a Janssen vaccine, then caught Covid more than 15 days later, you become eligible for a booster dose three months after infection. After seven of receiving this injection, you will be considered fully vaccinated, with a booster.

Proof of Covid recovery

You can use a positive Covid test that is more than 11 days old but less than 6 months old as proof of recent recovery from Covid. This can be either a PCR or antigen test, but not a home test kit.

How to keep health pass activated?

If you’re approaching the limit for getting a booster, your health pass will send you a warning that it is about to deactivate.

If you’re unable to get the booster before the health pass expiry date, you can instead upload your positive test result to the Tous Anti Covid app. 

When you receive a positive Covid test in France, you will normally be given either a piece of paper with a QR code that you can scan into the app directly, or receive a link by email or SMS to download your result. You can then scan the code into Tous Anti Covid.

Alternatively, there is a website where you will able to find proof of your test result – there is a function on the site which allows you to import the result into your TousAntiCovid app. Some have reported significant delays when it comes to this website displaying results. 

Positive Covid tests at least 11 days old can be used to gain entry to all health pass venues for six months. During this time, you can still get a booster dose if you fit within the timelines described above. 

If you do not use the app, you can instead show a positive Covid test between 11 days and 6 months old, plus proof of earlier vaccinations, on paper at health pass venues.

Upcoming changes to the health pass

The government hope to transform the health pass into a vaccine pass in January. This will require full vaccination to enter various public venues. 

READ MORE What will change when France’s health pass becomes a vaccine pass?

From February 15th, anyone over 18 will have to receive a booster dose within four months for their pass to remain active.

Eligibility will continue to start at three months since the previous vaccination.  

This will leave all adults with a one month period in which to receive a booster before the pass expires. 

READ MORE When will my French health pass deactivate?

If for example, you received your second dose on January 3rd 2022, you will become eligible for a booster on April 3rd 2022 and must get the shot before May 3rd 2022 or your pass will be deactivated. 

It is not yet clear how this will impact people who are using previous infection as a replacement for vaccination.

Travel abroad

The above rules are for the domestic French health pass, which you use to access bars etc. If you need to travel abroad then you can still use proof of your recent recovery from Covid, but for travel purposes you need to download a special ‘recovery certificate’ rather than just your positive test result.

Member comments

  1. Helen G
    My parents (over 65) received their first Pfizer dose in December 2020 and their second in January 2021. They got their booster in October 2021. All doses given in England. Their booster was more than 6 months after their 2nd dose (could not have got it within 6 months as boosters were not being offered in July 2021). They hope to come to France when they are allowed and go to restaurants. Will their pass sanitaire have been completely deactivated by the delay in getting the booster or reactivated when they got boosted? Can anyone help please?

  2. What happens if you caught covid in the states, there were no tests available to prove you got covid, except for home tests?

  3. For Travel Abroad_(in the above article)- you advise to download a special ‘recovery certificate’. Where can I find this please?

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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.