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COVID-19 VACCINES

Who gets a Covid vaccine booster shot in France

France has begun administering booster shots of the Covid vaccine to some groups, while others are still waiting. Here's the latest on whether you qualify for an extra shot.

Covid vaccine boosters in France are only available to certain groups
Covid vaccine boosters in France are only available to certain groups. Photo: Thomas Coex/AFP

Who qualifies for a booster now?

France began its booster shot programme in September, but only for certain groups. At present to qualify you must be either;

  • Either aged over 65
  • Suffering from a medical condition that puts you at higher risk from Covid. This includes conditions like obesity, diabetes or asthma, you can find full details here 
  • A health worker or domestic carer
  • A close contact of someone who is immunodeprived
  • Have had the single-dose Johnson a Johnson (Janssen) vaccine

You also need to have had your last dose at least six months ago.

From December 1st, 2021, anyone aged 50 to 64, who had their most recent dose of Covid-19 vaccine at least six months previously can also get a booster dose. Appointments for vaccinations in December are open on medical platforms including Doctolib. 

People who contracted Covid after their first or second dose do not need a booster dose, the HAS has ruled. In France, people who had previously had Covid get just one dose of the vaccine and are counted as ‘fully vaccinated’ for travel or health passport purposes (although not all countries recognise this for travel purposes) 

If you meet those criteria there is no need to wait for an invitation, you can book your appointment directly either by phone, online or via the Doctolib app.

READ ALSO How to book an appointment for the Covid vaccine

From December 1st

From December 1st this group will be expanded to include all over 50s. Booking is now open for this group to make their appointments on or after December 1st.

From December 15th

From December 15th, health passes will begin to be deactivated for over 65s who are eligible for a booster shot but have not taken up the offer – full details here.

Vaccines

France uses the Pfizer vaccine for booster shots, although the medical regulator HAS has advised that Moderna can also be used, but only for over 30s.

What about everyone else?

At present, most other groups cannot have an extra dose.

Will that change?

It might, yes. The European Medicines Agency now recommends a booster shot for all adults, not just the most vulnerable. 

The EMA’s opinion is advisory and it will be up to the French government to decide whether to expand the booster programme further, once the over 50s become eligible.

If this is the case it is likely that the six-month gap will remain in place, meaning that people who were vaccinated in May or June – when vaccinations opened up to everyone – would not be eligible until the end of the year or early 2022.

The French medical regulator Haute Autorite de santé has so far not given its opinion on this, although a previous statement from September did lean towards boosters for all, saying that the decline in the effectiveness of vaccines over time “does not only affect the elderly and populations at risk of severe forms”, even if these populations “remain the most affected”. 

Combined with flu shots?

The HAS has already given its approval to the idea of giving the Covid vaccine booster and the flu shot in a single appointment, for those who are eligible, and it seems likely that combined appointments will become available when the flu vaccine programme is rolled out from October 26th.

READ ALSO What you need to know about the 2021 flu vaccination programme 

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COVID-19 VACCINES

Are people who’ve had the single J&J jab no longer fully vaccinated in Germany?

Germany's federal vaccine agency says that people who've had one dose of the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine should no longer be classed as being fully vaccinated.

People queue for a vaccination in Quedlinburg, Saxony-Anhalt.
People queue for a vaccination in Quedlinburg, Saxony-Anhalt. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Matthias Bein

People who’ve had J&J, sometimes known as Janssen, used to have full vaccination status after a single dose of the vaccine. 

Since January 15th, however, a single dose of J&J should no longer count as full vaccination, according to the Paul Ehrlich Institute (PEI), the country’s vaccine authority. 

In autumn last year the German government began recommending a second mRNA jab for people who’d had J&J – which many people thought was the booster vaccination. 

However, according to the PEI’s update on proof of vaccination within the Covid Protective Measures Exemption Ordinance and the Coronavirus Entry Ordinance, the second shot is needed to complete ‘basic immunisation’.

It is unclear at this stage if it means that people returning or coming to Germany from abroad with only one shot of J&J will be counted as partially vaccinated and therefore need to present tests or face other forms of barriers to entry. 

We are also looking into what this means for the various health pass rules in states, such as the 3G rules for transport. 

The Deutsches Ärzteblatt, a German-language medical magazine, said: “Special rules according to which one dose was recognised as a complete vaccination with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine are no longer applicable.”

The Local has contacted the German Health Ministry for clarification on what this means for those affected. 

According to the latest government figures, 5.3 million doses of Johnson & Johnson have been given out in Germany so far in the vaccination campaign. 

The news will come as a shock to those who don’t know that they need another jab, or haven’t got round to getting their second vaccine yet. 

All other jabs – such as BioNTech/Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca – already require two jabs. 

People in Germany are seen as fully vaccinated two weeks after their second dose. 

What about boosters?

As The Local Germany has been reporting, the German government said in December that people who’ve had J&J need a third shot three months after their second dose to be considered boosted.

A German Health Ministry spokesman told us last week that due to more vaccination breakthrough infections affecting people who’ve had the J&J vaccine, extra protection was needed.

“Therefore, after completion of the basic immunisation as recommended by STIKO, i.e. after administration of two vaccine doses (preferably 1x J&J + 1x mRNA), following the current recommendation of the STIKO, a further booster vaccination can subsequently be administered with a minimum interval of a further three months, as with the other approved Covid-19 vaccines,” the Health Ministry spokesman said. 

However, there has been much confusion on this front because some states have been accepting J&J and another shot as being boosted, while others haven’t.

READ ALSO:

It is unclear if the new regulation will mean that states will all have to only accept J&J and two shots as being boosted. 

North Rhine-Westphalia, for instance, updated its regulations on January 16th and now requires that people who’ve had J&J and one shot have another jab to be boosted. 

Having a booster shot in Germany means that you do not have to take a Covid-19 test if you’re entering a venue, such as a restaurant or cafe, under the 2G-plus rules.

The Paul Ehrlich Institute said that proof of complete vaccination protection against Covid takes into account “the current state of medical science”. 

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