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. 


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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Reader Question: Can I specify the dual-strain vaccine when getting my Covid booster in France?

At-risk populations in France are eligible for a second Covid-19 booster shot, but many are asking whether it is possible to specifically request one of the new dual-strain vaccines when booking.

Reader Question: Can I specify the dual-strain vaccine when getting my Covid booster in France?

Question: I am qualified, by age and by time elapsed since my first Covid booster, for a fourth shot. But I want to make sure that my fourth shot will be one of the new dual-strain vaccines. Is this possible?

French health authorities launched the autumn booster campaign on October 3rd, which includes newly authorised bivalent (dual-strain) vaccines – such as the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine adapted to BA.1, the Moderna vaccine adapted to BA.1, and the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine adapted to BA.4/5 – which are designed to combat the Omicron variant.

France’s health authority, the Haut Autorité de Santé said in a press release on September 20th that “the expected clinical efficacy of these new dual-strain vaccines is at least equivalent or even superior to that of the original vaccines.”

READ MORE: When, where and how to get flu shots and Covid boosters this autumn in France

So is it possible to specify when booking that you want the dual-strain vaccine?

The Local spoke with representatives from the French ministry of health, who specified on Friday that “dual-strain (bivalent) vaccines will be injected as a priority during the autumn campaign in accordance with the HAS recommendations.”

For those who are eligible to renew their booster dose, it is therefore “not necessary to specify that they want a bivalent vaccine, since we will have enough doses for the entire target audience.”

France’s General Health Directorate told the Journal des Femmes that the two most commonly used vaccines for its fall campaign are “the Comirnaty Original/Omicron BA.4-5 vaccine (by Pfizer) and the Spikevax bivalent Original/ Omicron BA.1 vaccine (by Moderna).”

Data for the last two weeks show that of the 112,409 people in France who received a second booster dose, 77,715 were vaccinated with the new Pfizer dual-strain vaccine, and 34,694 were vaccinated with the new Moderna Omicron-adapted product – meaning that everyone got a dual-strain vaccine.

You can find the whole list of those who are eligible for a second (or third) booster HERE.

READ MORE: Reader Question: Can I get a third Covid booster shot in France?

Additionally, health authorities have been recommending that anyone who is eligible should receive their booster shot. 

Before the dual-strain vaccines were authorised, French health authorities recommended at-risk groups to receive booster vaccines as soon as possible, rather than waiting for the availability of the Omicron-adapted jabs.

“For people at risk, either the elderly or those with co-morbidities, it is necessary to give the fourth dose as long as the virus is circulating, and therefore as of now,” infectious diseases specialist Anne-Claude Crémieux told Le Parisien over the summer.

Crémieux added that vaccines not-adapted to Omicron subvariants have also “been proven to be effective against severe forms of the disease”.

If you have already had a booster with the original vaccine and now want an additional dual-strain booster this is possible, although you must wait either thee months (if you are over 80 or the resident of a nursing home) or six months (for other at-risk groups) after your most recent booster.

Additionally, TF1 reported on Friday that Santé publique France (France’s public health agency) was calling for an intensification of the ongoing vaccine campaign, because only 30.4 percent of 60-79 year olds had received their second booster dose as of October 10th, and only 37.7 percent of over 80s – the group most vulnerable to severe forms of Covid-19 – had received their new booster. 

France is currently seeing a continued rise in cases amid the eighth wave of Covid-19, and the number of new positive cases rose by 13 percent in one week, as of October 11th.

Santé publique France referenced this during its weekly bulletin, saying that “the circulation of Covid-19 – and hospital admissions – continue to increase throughout metropolitan France.”

“Given the current situation and the diminished adoption of preventive measures, vaccination must be reinforced, in particular by a booster with a bivalent vaccine,” the agency wrote.