Free schools tests, boosters and vaccine targets: Covid France updates

The government has confirmed that coronavirus tests will be free in schools. It has also said that care home residents will be offered a booster jab from September 13

27 August 2021

The French government predicts that the milestone of 50 million first coronavirus vaccine doses will be reached within the next few days. Pic: Pimen / Shutterstock

By Emma Morgan

Three updates have been announced this week on the Covid situation and related vaccination in France - we recap here.

1: Free Covid tests in schools and no compulsory vaccination for teachers

Vaccination against Covid-19 will not be obligatory for teachers, confirmed Education minister Jean-Michel Blanquer today (August 27) during an interview on RTL. 

He did add, however, that “the objective is to arrive at a point where nearly 100% of teachers are vaccinated.” Currently, fewer than 10% of those in the profession are unvaccinated, he said. 

He also promised that coronavirus tests carried out in school would remain free. Elsewhere, people will have to pay to get tested from October.

When they return to school on September 2, pupils will be subject to a ‘Level 2’ set of restrictions, which will require them to wear masks at all times when indoors. 

Read more: Back to school: Guide to Covid rules for parents and pupils in France
Read more: French universities return to full classes for new academic year

2: Date set for third vaccine dose in care homes 

Residents in care homes for the elderly (Ehpads) will be able to receive their third Covid vaccine dose from September 13, as long as six months have elapsed since their second.

“In Israel, people are catching Covid again even though they have often had two doses,” said Prime Minister Jean Castex on RTL on August 26. “Among people who are older or more vulnerable, the level of protection declines. 

“The Haute Autorité de Santé [France’s health service quality regulator] has said that [a third dose] is necessary for over-65s and those who are most vulnerable.”

“From September 13, there will be a systematic resumption of the vaccination campaign – after having received consent – within care homes.”

Read more: Covid booster jabs for over 65s in France: Five key questions

Read more: Details of who is eligible for France's Covid-19 booster plan revealed

The Prime Minister added that all over-65s and people with health conditions making them particularly vulnerable to Covid-19 will be able to book their booster vaccination appointments from around this date.

3: Vaccine rates among caregivers 

83% of carers in France are now vaccinated against Covid-19. 

Health minister Olivier Véran said during a press conference on August 26 that this is a “spectacular leap,” in coverage that has occurred since the announcement of obligatory vaccination for this and other professions.

Read more: France races towards 50m first Covid vaccination target, equalling UK

Read more: Covid France: Gendarmes must be fully vaccinated by September 15

Read more: Reaction: France mandatory vaccine plan covers 1.5m workers in 70 jobs

The government now predicts that the number of people having received one vaccine dose will reach 50 million two or three days after the end of the month.

During Thursday’s press conference, Mr Véran also suggested that France has reached the peak of its fourth Covid-19 wave, saying that it was “not behind us, but is starting to diminish.

“This fourth wave is primarily killing people who are not vaccinated,” he added. “Hospitals are full of unvaccinated patients.”   

Related stories 

Coronavirus: Daily updates on the situation in France

Anti-vax views ‘will cause many deaths’ in French overseas territories

Court rules not to pause obligatory Covid jabs for French firefighters

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