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COVID-19 VACCINES

800,000 people in France could see health pass deactivated on Saturday

As France prepares for a major change to its health pass system, the health minister has warned that many people could see their pass deactivate on Saturday.

A passenger shows his health pass at the train station in France.
A passenger shows his health pass at the train station in France. Changes to booster dose requirements for over 18s on Saturday will see hundreds of thousands of people have their health passes deactivated. (Photo by GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT / AFP)

“We count 800,000 people who still need to get a booster dose to hold on to their health pass,” health minister Olivier Véran told a press conference – although he conceded that this figure was “probably overestimated” and “the upper limit”. 

On Saturday, January 15th new rules come into force meaning that everyone over the age of 18 who has not received a booster dose within seven months of completing a full Covid vaccination course (a double dose of AstraZeneca/Pfizer/Moderna vaccine) will have their health passes deactivated. 

These rules are already in place for people over the age of 65, while those who were vaccinated with the single-dose Janssen vaccine face a two month deadline to receive a booster before their health passes are deactivated.

The health pass is used in France to gain access to a wide range of public venues like restaurants, bars, museums, cinemas and some large outdoor events – excluding political rallies.

In order to keep their health passes active, people must upload either a vaccination certificate from their booster shot or – if they have recently had Covid – a positive test result to the Tous Anti Covid app.

A paper version of these documents can also be presented at health pass venues.

Véran said that the government does not have figures for the percentage of those who are using proof as recovery from Covid as a means to use the health pass and have received a booster dose – this is the apparent reason that there is some doubt over the true number of people who will see their health passes deactivated.

Currently, positive antigen or PCR tests that are between 11 days and six months old can be used instead of a vaccination certificate. Three months after testing positive for Covid, you are eligible to receive a booster shot. 

READ MORE Do I need a vaccine booster if I’ve already had Covid?

Tourists, visitors and people vaccinated outside France will also require a booster to be able to use the health pass. You can read more about that HERE

How will I know if my health pass will be deactivated? 

The easiest way to see if your health pass will be deactivated is to use the TousAntiCovid app – those who do so will receive an on-screen notification if their pass is set to expire. 

You can also double-check by clicking on the “Ouvrir mon carnet” or “Open my wallet” section of the app. If your pass is set to expire, your most recent in-app vaccination certificate will carry a yellow warning informing you of the deadline to get your booster dose. 

READ MORE When will my French health pass deactivate?

There is also an online simulator to tell you when your health pass will be deactivated – this is particularly useful for people who do not use the TousAntiCovid app.

After you receive a booster, your health pass does not update automatically. It is up to you to scan the QR code on the vaccination certificate into the TousAntiCovid app. If you do not use the app, you will need to carry paper vaccination certificates, including the booster vaccination certificate, to access public venues. 

If your health pass is deactivated, it is not the end of the world. 

It is possible to reactivate your health pass once you have had the booster dose. If you are over 65, you do not even need to book an appointment to receive your booster. You can simply walk into any vaccination site and you will be given priority treatment.

You can read our guide on how to get a booster dose HERE

After receiving your booster dose, you will get a new vaccination certificate and you simply scan this into TousAntiCovid to reactivate the app.

If you do not yet have a French carte vitale, ask at the vaccine centre for a paper copy of the certificate.

The reactivation of the health pass is supposed to be immediate (unless this is only your second shot, in which case you must wait seven days). But because of a computer error, a small minority of people who receive their booster dose may also have to wait seven days before the TousAntiCovid app recognises their new vaccination status. 

If this is the case for you, you can still show paper proof of your first two jabs and booster jab which will permit you access to any health pass venue.  

Further upcoming changes

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

The French government is also pushing to introduce a vaccine pass which means a negative test result would no longer be accepted as a means to access venues where the health pass is currently applied. Full vaccination with a booster dose will be required to gain entry to these venues. 

READ ALSO

Member comments

  1. I had two Pfizer jabs plus a Moderna booster in France. But I lost the piece of paper with the reference number of my first two jabs. That means that the booster can not be added to my health pass. There is no way round this problem, apparently.

    1. When we received our jabs it was stressed to us the importance of holding on to those pieces of paper (we are not yet enrolled into the healthcare system here). I think if you do have photos of the documents that would help as it is the small print reference number on them that is important (if you cannot resolve the QR code).

      1. I know. I travel regularly between France and the UK. Somewhere along the way I seem to have misplaced it. Entirely my fault. But very odd that the whole digital process grinds to a halt if you don’t have a number on a bit of paper.

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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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