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.
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.
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.
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.