How will UK over-65s prove Covid booster for French health pass?
New rules that obligatory booster jabs are needed to maintain a pass were announced by President Macron on Tuesday, raising an issue for British visitors as UK QR codes do not show boosters
It is unclear how non-EU visitors aged 65 and over will prove they have had their booster jabs Pic: Perfect Wave / Shutterstock
It is not known how British – and other non-EU nationality – visitors who are aged 65 or above will be able to prove they have had a Covid booster jab in order to access a French health pass.
From December 15 the French government states that the health passes of people aged 65 or more will be deactivated if they have not had a booster jab and their final jab was more than six months and five weeks ago.
The Connexion has asked the French Health Ministry for confirmation that this will also concern visitors trying to get a pass – we are awaiting an update but expect that no exception will be made.
This issue is also raised on the UK foreign office’s page for France Travel Advice, at this link under Public spaces and services.
The page repeats the French government’s announcement and states it will be updated with more information when received.
We have also put the question to the British Embassy in Paris which, as yet, has no further clarification to give.
In the UK, booster jabs are being offered to over-50s and others such as those with health conditions putting them at risk of serious forms of Covid but they are not obligatory.
The UK recently became fully-integrated into the EU digital Covid certificate scheme, the name for the EU-wide system of mutually-recognised QR codes proving health status, including vaccination, a recent Covid negative test result or having recovered from Covid. The French health pass scheme makes use of this.
This means UK QR codes issued after vaccination are now recognised in France as proof of status and can also be scanned into France’s TousAntiCovid app.
Currently however there is a problem, as the UK’s NHS Covid Pass, either in digital form, or in print-outs, does not show a new QR code as proof of having had a booster (unlike in France).
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: “Currently, booster vaccinations are not required for domestic certification in England or at the UK border and are not currently displayed in the NHS Covid Pass.
“We know some countries are altering their vaccination requirements so we continue to keep this under review to ensure British citizens can travel abroad as easily as possible.”
While the UK is now, as mentioned, in theory fully-integrated in the EU QR code system, visitors of non-EU/EEA nationalities who do not have compatible codes may now visit a participating French pharmacy to ‘convert’ their foreign vaccination certificates into a new French certificate with a functional QR code for ‘health pass’ purposes. It costs up to €36.
We would expect this to also apply to booster vaccinations, assuming the person has a certificate that shows the jab to have been a booster (in most cases a ‘third’) dose. We have asked the French Health Ministry to confirm this point.
Will entry to France also require a booster jab to be considered fully vaccinated?
There is, so far, no information that the French intend to also change their definition of ‘fully vaccinated’ for entry to the country to include booster vaccinations for people aged 65 and over.
It may happen but it is important to note that rules on entry to the country are a separate issue to the use of ‘health passes’ for restaurants and cultural and sports venues etc, where venues expect to be able to scan a recognised QR code.
Several readers have written to express their concerns about the new requirements.
One, Michael Herron, said he is worried about how he will access a health pass when he visits his second home in France at New Year. He added he is also concerned about the possibility that health passes may be brought in for ski lifts this winter (though so far this has only been stated as likely to happen if the health situation becomes significantly worse).
Mary Craig from Ireland said she will be in France for three weeks over Christmas and New Year and is worried she may not be able to obtain a booster in time. “In Ireland you have to wait until our health department gives us the appointment,” she said.
John and Jane Ramsden said: “We hope to travel to France soon to visit our second home [in the Vaucluse]. Our NHS App shows we have had the booster jab, but it is not included in the UK’s QR code”.
As before, when many non-EU visitors were struggling to obtain a health pass certificate with a QR code, a fall-back option remains of taking a Covid test, which can include an antigen test which are available at many pharmacies with rapid results. Autotest (self-administered) versions of the latter were also recently allowed, but must be taken under supervision by a professional.
From the start of December booster jabs will also be made available in France to people aged 50-65, however it is not known if there will be any change to the health pass rules for this group.
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