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Reader question: Can I get a Covid vaccine as a tourist in France?

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Reader question: Can I get a Covid vaccine as a tourist in France?
A patient receives a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech (Comirnaty) Covid-19 vaccine, in the Lyon Gerland vaccination center, on November 27, 2021. (Photo by JEFF PACHOUD / AFP)

As France introduces a strict vaccine pass system for entry to many everyday venues such as cafés and bars, several readers have asked us if they can be vaccinated or get a booster while in France on holiday.


Question: I'm from the US and have a trip to Paris booked in March. Here it's not possible to get a booster just four months after a second dose, so as I understand it I won't be able to use the French vaccine pass. Can't I just get my booster while I'm on holiday in France?

This is quite an ironic question, since if we scroll back to January 2021 France was widely derided as having one of the western world's slowest vaccine rollouts and people were asking us whether they could leave France to get vaccinated elsewhere.

What a difference a year makes. In the interval France has dramatically stepped up its vaccine rollout and now has a very efficient system and a 93 percent vaccination rate among over 12s.

It also has a strict vaccine pass system that requires people to be fully vaccinated in order to enter a wide range of venues including bars, cafés and tourist sites. Full details on how that works HERE.


And in order to use the vaccine pass you need to be 'fully vaccinated ' - which in France also means having had a booster for most adults.

So if your home country is not offering a vaccine that meets the French specifications (either because it is using non-EMA approved vaccines like Sputnik or because its booster shot programme doesn't move as fast as the French one) can you get your shots while here?

Technically, no.

France, in common with most countries, reserves its vaccines for residents. You don't have to be a French citizen but you do have to be a resident of France.

So how strictly is this enforced?

In most cases, you will be asked to show your carte vitale when going for a vaccine appointment. This is the French health insurance card with a social security number that residents have in order to get publicly-funded healthcare. Obviously, tourists or visitors will not have this.

There is, however, a decree passed at the beginning of 2021 that states that residents of France who do not have a carte vitale should be vaccinated. This was originally intended for people in vulnerable situations such as the homeless or undocumented migrants, but it can also be used for people who have recently moved and don't have the card yet (registering for the card can take more than six months). In this case you would usually be asked for proof of residency such as utility bills.

Feedback from readers of The Local suggest that some centres are more vigilant than others about checking residency paperwork, but we would suggest that tourists do not rely on this in order to get an extra dose while in France.


Join the conversation in our comments section below. Share your own views and experience and if you have a question or suggestion for our journalists then email us at [email protected].
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Anonymous 2022/01/27 17:45
I could name 10 Americans not resident in France who received their boosters in France… myself and husband included. No questions asked. No proof of residency… only a CDC card as proof of the first 2 jabs. In short, the French are bending over backwards to give anyone and everyone a vaccine if they want it.
Anonymous 2022/01/25 22:36
I’m under the impression that only fully vaccinated and passengers with a negative Covid test are allowed to board a plane to France.

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