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‘Fully vaccinated’: does meaning vary in France depending on context?

We explain the differences between what is required for travel and for accessing a health or vaccine pass in France

The definition of ‘fully vaccinated’ can change slightly in France depending on the situation Pic: Rido / Shutterstock

[Update February 3 at 17:00 - Please note that the rules for international travel have now changed, meaning that people aged over 18 years and one month will need to have a booster dose within nine months of their second in order to maintain their 'fully vaccinated' status for entry into France. Read more: Covid booster dose requirement extends to all travellers to France]

Reader question: Please can you confirm that I've understood correctly that border crossings and eating out fall under different vaccination rules? 

Yes, the two situations are classed differently.

People who are classed as ‘fully vaccinated’ when entering France should be aware that they may only be seen as partially vaccinated when they go to create a health or vaccine pass (pass sanitaire or pass vaccinal), which are needed in order to access a range of public spaces and services.

Rules for entering the country

For international travel to France, adults are considered to be fully vaccinated seven days after receiving their second dose of a European Medicines Agency-approved vaccine. 

These are: Pfizer/Comirnaty, Moderna, AstraZeneca/Vaxzevria/Covishield, Novavax and Janssen. 

For the single-dose Janssen jab, recipients are only classed as being fully vaccinated 28 days after their one and only injection.

Read more: Do Americans (or other nationalities) need boosters to visit France?

People who have had a vaccine approved by the World Health Organisation but not by the European Medicines Agency, such as the Chinese Sinopharm jab, are counted as being fully vaccinated seven days after receiving an additional dose of a mRNA vaccine such as Pfizer or Moderna. 

The measures applied to vaccinated adults are extended under the same conditions to any  accompanying minors, whether vaccinated or not.

It should be noted, however, that from February 1 a booster vaccination dose – received at most nine months after your second or only vaccination – will be required to maintain the EU digital Covid pass, which is used for travel between EU member states. 

Certain exemptions will occur for essential journeys, children under 12 and cross-border commuters. 

Rules for vaccine and health passes 

On Monday January 24, France’s health pass system was transformed in the main into a vaccine pass system. 

This means that all residents and visitors over the age of 16 must present proof of vaccination or of recent recovery from Covid in order to enter a range of public spaces. These include restaurants, bars, cafés, museums, theme parks, long-distance transports (unless in a family or health emergency) ski lifts and gyms. 

Previously, under the health pass system, it had been possible to present the negative result of a Covid test taken within the last 24 hours. This option is now only reserved for 12 to 15-year-olds, and for entry into medical and care settings. 

Children under 12 years and two months do not need any type of pass.

In these circumstances, people can continue to enter affected public spaces using a test result. 

In order to create a vaccine pass based on your vaccination record and not on a recent Covid infection, you must have had all required doses. 

You must have received your last dose of Pfizer, Moderna or AstraZeneca/Covishield seven days before, or 28 days before in the case of Janssen.

However, there are also deadlines related to receiving a Covid booster. This means that if you wait more than seven months after your second dose before receiving a booster, your vaccine pass will expire (or you will not be able to get one as a visitor) if you are an adult. Under-18s are not affected by this rule.

People in France become eligible for a booster three months after their second dose (or four weeks in the case of the Janssen vaccine), and currently have a further four months in which to go for their booster. Janssen recipients, on the other hand, have a further month after they become eligible for an additional dose. 

So, if you visit France next week and you had your second vaccine dose in September, you will be counted as fully vaccinated and will be able to create a vaccine pass. 

However, if your second dose was in April 2021 you will only be able to access a vaccine pass if you have also had a booster.

From February 15, the deadline for receiving a booster dose will be shortened to four months, giving people just one month of leeway after they become eligible for the additional vaccine.

It is also possible to obtain a temporary vaccine pass if you begin your vaccination schedule before February 15 and go for their second dose within four weeks of the first. The pass will last for the duration of their vaccination schedule, in which time they will need to present a negative Covid test from the last 24 hours. 

Both vaccine and health passes are accessed through the TousAntiCovid app and are the exact same thing if the proof being used is a vaccination record or a certificate of recovery.

Printed certificates are also valid.

If you have recently recovered from Covid and have not yet been able to get a booster dose as a result, you may be able to upload proof of previous infection to TousAntiCovid if you were tested in the UK or the EU. The UK's NHS app, for example, will present a QR code entitled 'Recovered from Covid-19' along with any vaccination records. This can be downloaded and then scanned to TousAntiCovid.

Related articles

Covid-19: Rules for travel to and from France

France’s vaccine pass launches: How and where is it being used?

Do we have to convert our French health pass to the new vaccine pass? 

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