Do foreign visitors need a Covid booster to obtain French health pass?
Visitors to France need a health pass – normally created through proof of full vaccination – to access a range of public spaces and services in the country
Visitors to France belonging to groups eligible for the Covid booster do not currently need to have the additional dose to create a valid health pass Pic: sylv1rob1 / Shutterstock
Do you know how a visitor to France from outside Europe goes about adding the details of a third vaccine dose to the French health pass? Is this step necessary?
Proof of having received a Covid booster jab is not currently needed for eligible individuals wishing to use a French health pass.
In France, an additional dose of the vaccine is being offered six months after the second to:
- People over 65
- Medical professionals
- People at risk of serious forms of Covid, including those with diabetes and obesity issues
- People who are severely immunocompromised and their close friends and family
- People who received one dose of the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine are eligible to receive a booster vaccine dose in France (at least four weeks after their first dose)
This amounts to around 20 million people, although only around 6.8 million of them are now six months on from their second dose.
However, government-approved tool VaccinTracker states that as of November 1, only 3,028,581 third doses have so far been administered, meaning that there are millions of people who have not yet received it.
At present, the injection of a booster Covid vaccine dose generates a new QR code which can be uploaded to the TousAntiCovid app and stored alongside a person’s original vaccine certificate code.
Both QR codes can be used as a health pass and the booster dose does not invalidate the certificates that come before it.
Therefore, visitors from vulnerable groups travelling to France from abroad still count as fully vaccinated even if they have not received a booster dose or have not added their booster dose certificate to their health pass.
Might this change in the future?
The French government has suggested that it could seek to make booster doses an obligatory component of the health passes of eligible groups.
This decision would, however, depend on the advice of France’s health service quality regulator, Haute Autorité de santé (HAS), who have been reluctant to respond to the idea.
“This is a position which is more political than scientific,” HAS’ infectious diseases expert Jean-Daniel Lelièvre told BFMTV on October 19.
“If the government seeks our advice we will provide a response but personally I do not believe it is our role to make a judgement on the issue.”
The government has now sought the advice of HAS, whose recommendations are expected “in the coming days.”
The Académie de médecine medical institution has expressed its opposition to the suggestion of requiring booster doses for health passes.
The Académie said in a statement that this would “transgress the role of the health pass, which was to limit the risk of virus transmission and to encourage the population to get vaccinated.
“It suggests a certain doubt about the efficacy of the vaccine and gives rise to an unjustified discrimination against more vulnerable people who have already received two vaccine doses.
“Is it necessary to impose [the booster] on this sensitised population, the vast majority of which will consent to receiving the [additional dose] anyway?
“Shouldn’t incentivising measures first target the adults who are not yet vaccinated?”
How do you get a health pass if you are visiting from outside the EU or the UK?
Visitors from within the EU and from some countries including the UK have vaccination certificates that are already compatible with France’s TousAntiCovid health pass app and which can be uploaded directly.
However, many non-EU tourists, including those from the US and Canada, do not have documentation that can be scanned into TousAntiCovid, so must undergo a process to convert their certificates to a QR code.
These people had previously been able to request this code through an online portal, but this has recently been suspended.
Now, non-EU travellers must visit one of a list of designated French pharmacies with their passport and vaccination documents to translate their certificates into a QR code.
This comes at a cost of up to €36.
Those who are unable to convert their vaccination documents or who are unvaccinated can also choose to undergo an antigen test – generally priced between €20 and €30 – whose results will come with a TousAntiCovid-compatible QR code valid for 72 hours.