'Green vaccine passport' proposed by French MP

Idea would allow holders to show they had had the vaccination and resume a normal life, said the MP during a debate into the details of France’s Covid vaccination strategy

17 December 2020
By Joanna York

Proposals for a 'green passport' for people in France who get the Covid vaccine have been discussed by French politicians during a presentation on France’s vaccination strategy.

The proposed health passport would allow holders to resume activities such as going to restaurants, once they had been vaccinated.  

Valérie Six, UDI MP for the Nord department, said: “We could follow Israel’s example by giving each person who gets the vaccine a green passport, which will allow them to go into cultural spaces, restaurants… basically to resume normal life.”

Passports could encourage vaccination  

Speaking yesterday, Prime Minister Jean Castex said that Covid vaccination was likely to begin in France in a matter of days. Authorisation for the first vaccine from the European Medicines Agency is expected next week, meaning vaccination could start in France in the “last week of December”.

But recent polls have shown that people in France are reticent to get vaccinated. In a poll from December, 61% said they would probably or definitely not get the Covid vaccine.

And an October study from Ipsos showed the French population having the lowest intention to get vaccinated out of 15 countries surveyed. At the time, 54% of people in France intended to have the vaccine, compared with highs of 87% in India, 85% in China and 83% in South Korea. 

In this context, Ms Six added that the passports could “encourage people in France to get vaccinated and to understand that vaccination protects the self, but also others.”

Results from an international poll showing the percentage of people who intend to get the Covid vaccine (Ipsos / FranceInfo

Details of vaccination strategy revealed

Prime Minister Jean Castex and Health Minister Olivier Véran presented details of France’s vaccination strategy in parliament. The plans define timelines, who has priority access, and health measures to run alongside the mass vaccination campaign.

Phase one: Care homes

The prime minister said vaccination could begin at the end of this month, starting with around one million elderly people in care homes. “This first phase will last for a period of six to eight weeks, to take into account the delay of 21 days between the first vaccination and the booster,” he said.

What is stopping Covid vaccination beginning now in France?

Phase two: The elderly, sick and health workers

The second phase will target around 14 million people who are at risk from the virus due to their age or chronic illness, along with some health professionals. Strategies for vaccinating people in their homes will be put in place.

This phase should begin in mid to late-February. The health minister said the second phase would last an unspecified amount of time, “according to the rhythm of vaccine deliveries". France has so far ordered almost 200 million vaccine doses, to vaccinate 100 million people, which will be delivered when approved by French health authorities.  

The order of priority for vaccinations in the second phase will be “people over 75, then over 65s, then over 50s” he said.

Phase three: Key workers, people in precarious conditions, and everyone else 

Mr Castex said: “Only in the third stage, the end of spring, will we open up vaccination to the whole population.” 

This stage will involve vaccinating the remaining 50 million people, organised into priority categories. Again, age will be taken into consideration, with people aged 50–64 being vaccinated first. 

Then will come key workers, and professionals in essential roles such as security, education and food provision.  

Mr Véran said the next priority would be “people in vulnerable and precarious situations, and the professionals who look after them, people who live in confined housing” and lastly, the rest of the general population. 

More care to be provided for tracing and isolation

The prime minister also announced measures to run alongside the vaccination campaign to help stop the spread of Covid-19 in 2021. Such measures are necessary as, he said, “the start of the vaccination campaign does not mean the end of the epidemic.” 

These included the creation of 4,000 extra jobs with the Assurance Maladie to help Covid tracing efforts in France along with 1,500 nurses, and 3,000 social workers to help support people isolating at home.

He said: “Each person who tests positive will be offered a home visit from a care team and a social worker.”

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