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COVID-19 VACCINES

French health minister: If you’ve had Covid you may not need a booster for your vaccine pass

People who have had Covid may not need a booster shot in order the keep their vaccine pass active, the French health minister has announced.

Moderna syringes lie waiting for use in a Covid vaccination centre in France.
France has announced a shift in its 'one infection = one dose policy' (Photo by PHILIPPE LOPEZ / AFP)

Health minister Olivier Véran announced on Thursday that people who have been double vaccinated, but then caught Covid before they could get a booster shot, will not need the booster to keep their vaccine pass activated.

They can still get a booster – three months after their infection date – if they wish, but it will no longer be required for the vaccine pass.

Previously the government had stated that the booster was needed for everyone, even recently infected people, in order to maintain the vaccine pass that is required to enter a wide range of venues including bars, cafés, ski lifts, cinemas and long-distance trains.

France has a ‘one infection = one dose’ rule in place which means that having a bout of Covid is counted the same as a single dose of the vaccine.

So for example if you had Covid before the vaccine rollout began, you would have a single dose of AstraZeneca, Pfizer or Moderna, plus a booster so that one Covid plus two vaccines equals the required three ‘doses’.

Conversely, double vaccination followed by a bout of Covid also equals three doses.

“The immune system needs to be stimulated at least three times,” Véran told BFMTV – specifying that the timing of this ‘stimulation’ doesn’t matter. 

Janssen 

France requires people who have been injected with the single-dose Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccine, to receive a top-up dose of either Pfizer or Moderna, followed by a booster when eligible, in order to keep their fully vaccinated status.

Under 18s 

People less than 18 years and 1 month old are not required to have received a booster dose (or third stimulation of the immune system) to use the vaccine pass. 

People under 16 do not use the vaccine pass at all, but instead are still on the old health pass system. This means that they do not necessarily need to be fully vaccinated and can use negative Covid test results as a substitute to enter health/vaccine pass venues. 

People under the age of 12 are not required to use any kind of pass. 

READ ALSO Vaccine pass: Travelling to France with children

When do I need to get a booster dose?

Under current rules, over 18s can get a booster dose three months after their second immune stimulation – whether this is from vaccination or infection. You have seven months to get a booster or your vaccine pass will be deactivated. 

From February 15th, you will need to get a booster within four months of your second immune stimulation to carry on using the vaccine pass.

Anyone who has had a booster will get a valid vaccine pass – even if more than four months passed between the second dose and the booster. The time limits refer only to people who have not been boosted. 

What about tourists and visitors? 

Booster doses are not required as a condition for entry into France. 

Tourists and visitors are however subject the vaccine pass rules, meaning that over 18s who have not had a booster may not be able to get a vaccine pass.

If you intend to rely on a previous infection rather than a booster, check that the positive test result from your home country is valid within the French system.

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COVID-19

Where in France do you still need a face mask?

In France, masks will no longer be required on indoor transport as of Monday, May 16th. Here are rules and recommendations that are still in place:

Where in France do you still need a face mask?

Members of the public in France have been asked to wear face masks for the most part of two years, at times even outside in the street.

Since March 14th, 2022, the facial coverings have no longer been mandatory in most establishments such as shops, and as of Monday, May 16th, it will no longer be mandatory on indoor public transport. 

As of May 16th, you will therefore no longer be required to wear a mask in the following transports:

  • Buses and coaches
  • Subways and streetcars
  • RER and TER
  • TGV and interregional lines
  • Taxis

Regarding airplanes whether or not you must wear a mask is a bit more complicated.

On Wednesday, May 11th, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) announced that from May 16th onward it would no longer be required to wear a mask in airports and on board aircraft in the European Union. However, Germany has stated that it does not have the intention of lifting its requirement of wearing a mask on its airlines – this would include the Lufthansa airline. Thus, it will be necessary for passengers to still very to rules each airline has in place, which could be the case when travelling to a country that still has indoor mask requirements in place.

EASA Executive Director Patrick Ky specified that vulnerable people should continue to wear masks, and that “a passenger who is coughing and sneezing should strongly consider wearing a face mask, to reassure those seated nearby.”

Masks still obligatory in medical settings

However, it will still be mandatory for caregivers, patients and visitors in health care facilities, specifically including hospitals, pharmacies, medical laboratories, retirement homes, and establishments for the disabled. 

For people who are vulnerable either due to their age or their status as immunocompromised, wearing a mask will continue to be recommended, though not required, particularly for enclosed spaces and in large gatherings.

Masks are also still recommended for people who test positive, people who might have come in contact with Covid-19, symptomatic people and healthcare professionals.

Will masks come back?

It is possible. French Health Minister Olivier Véran does not exclude the return of mandatory mask-wearing, should the health situation require it.

What are the other Covid-19 restrictions that remain in place?

The primary restriction that has not changed is the French government’s regulation for testing positive: If you are unvaccinated and test positive, isolation is still required for 10 days, if you are vaccinated, this requirement is seven days. Isolation can be reduced from 10 to 7 days or from 7 to 5 days if a negative covid test is performed, and symptoms are no longer present.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: What Covid restrictions remain in place in France?

The French Health Ministry still recommends following sanitary measures such as: wearing a mask in places where it is still mandatory, hand washing, regular ventilation of rooms, coughing or sneezing into your elbow, and using a single-use handkerchief (tissue).

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