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Does France recognise the Novavax vaccine for international travel?

France approved this fifth vaccine in January this year, and began administering doses in March

Novavax is an EMA-approved vaccine and is therefore recognised in France Pic: TAM99PH / Shutterstock

Reader Question: Does France recognise the vaccine Novavax in the same way as mRNA vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna) for entry into the country? 

France classifies people entering the country as being ‘fully vaccinated’ 28 days after the administration of the single-dose Janssen vaccine, or seven days after the second dose of another vaccine approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA), the interior ministry states.

The vaccines that have received approval from the EMA are: 

  • Pfizer-BioNTech (Comirnaty)
  • Moderna (Spikevax)
  • Janssen (Johnson&Johnson)
  • AstraZeneca (Vaxzevria/Covishield) 
  • Novavax (Nuvaxovid)

The EMA recommended Novavax for authorisation in the EU in December 2021, and since then the first doses of the vaccine have been delivered around the world. 

Novavax was granted approval by France’s health service quality regulator the Haute autorité de santé in January. 

Read more: Novavax becomes fifth Covid vaccine to be approved in France

The country then ordered 3.2 million doses, and began administering them in March.

Novavax is not specifically mentioned on the French interior ministry page that details international travel restrictions, and the information does not appear to have been updated since the Novavax vaccine was approved in France. 

However, the fact that the country accepts EMA-approved vaccines, and states that on the page, means that it should automatically be recognised. 

News site Le Journal des Femmes does state that a person who has received two doses of  Novavax is considered fully vaccinated under travel rules. 

One added complication is the fact that France will only recognise a person who gets two shots of Novavax as “fully vaccinated” for the nine months after the second shot. After that, the person will have to get a booster dose of an mRNA vaccine, meaning either Pfizer or Moderna, to maintain their fully vaccinated status. 

What happens if you did not receive an EMA-approved vaccine? 

People who were initially vaccinated with a vaccine approved by the World Health Organisation but which is not on the EMA’s list – such as the Russian Sputnik jab, for example – can still be classed as vaccinated on certain conditions. 

They must receive an additional dose of an mRNA vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna) at least seven days before entering the country to count as fully vaccinated. 

It should also be noted that adults who received their second vaccine dose more than nine months ago must have a booster dose before travelling to France in order to retain their ‘fully vaccinated’ status.

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