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French MPs pass Covid vaccine pass bill on third attempt

The government hopes to transform Covid health passes into vaccine passes by January 15

214 MPs voted in favour of the bill that will transform the health pass into a vaccine pass, with 93 against and 27 abstaining Pic: Rabany sebastien / Shutterstock

French MPs have, on the third attempt, adopted a bill that aims to see the Covid health pass transformed into a vaccine pass within weeks.

Finally, after an all night session, the text was adopted at 05:25 this morning (January 6), with 214 MPs voting in favour, 93 against and 27 abstaining.

Debate on the bill began on Monday (January 3) in the Assemblée nationale but was suspended after a majority of MPs refused to extend discussions beyond the usual cut-off time of midnight.

Read more: French Covid vaccine pass law held up as opposition contests bill

The debate was re-scheduled again to Tuesday, but again the session was suspended -  this time due to the disorder caused by President Emmanuel Macron’s controversial statements in an article in Le Parisien newspaper saying he wants to “piss off” the unvaccinated. 

Read more: Emmanuel Macron admits he wants to ‘piss off’ the non-vaccinated

The planned vaccine pass, showing that someone is fully vaccinated against Covid, will be required to enter the majority of public places, including cafes, restaurants, long-distance transport services, cinemas, museums, etc.

French Prime Minister Jean Castex said this morning that despite the delays, he hopes the vaccine passes will be in place by the planned date of January 15. 

France’s upper house of parliament, the senate, will debate the bill next week. 

What is the vaccine pass?

If adopted, this would replace the current health pass, which allows people to show a negative Covid test to enter public places that fall under the scheme.

Under the bill that has been presented, the pass will be mandatory for everyone aged 12 and over. One amendment made during the debate is that only school pupils aged 16 and over will need it for school outings and extracurricular activities. This was formerly set at 12.

It remains unclear whether three vaccine doses (so including a booster) will be required to have a vaccine pass - as is the case with the health pass - or if two doses will be sufficient.

In a separate change, from January 15 all adults (18 and over) need a booster Covid shot for their vaccination certificates to remain valid with the health pass scheme. This is already the case for the over 65s.

Read more: Covid boosters, vaccine passes: What changes in France on January 15?

For children aged 12 to 17 who cannot yet receive a booster dose, it would be improbable that they would need three doses to get a vaccine pass. 

The government has suggested that a person with one Covid vaccine dose and who is not yet eligible for a second dose can use a negative Covid test to get a valid vaccine pass. 

It should be noted that France’s domestic Covid health pass and vaccine pass rules are separate from international travel rules.

For that, a person is considered by France to be fully vaccinated seven days after their second dose of a Covid vaccine by Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna or AstraZeneca, or 28 days after a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. 

There has been no official statement yet that this will change. 

Related stories

Seven Q&As: where, when and how would France’s vaccine pass plan work

‘Piss off the unvaccinated’: Not first time Macron’s words cause stir

Covid boosters, vaccine passes: What changes in France on January 15?

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