The vaccine programme is open to everyone in France aged five and above.
Initially only 12-18 year-olds were eligible, but this was extended first to high-risk 5-11 year-olds and then – from December 22nd – to all children in this age group.
Vaccination is open now. Parents can book an appointment directly, there is no need to wait for an invitation from a doctor. Booking platforms such as Doctolib have also been updated to include booking options for younger age groups.
Pharmacies are not yet involved in the vaccination programme for children, so families have to go to either a vaccination centre, their GP or a medical centre. If you are booking online or through an app such as Doctolib make sure you tick the 5-11 age group to get a list of the correct venues.
Pfizer is the only vaccine at present licensed for this age group, and younger children receive a smaller dose than adults.
Most children in France will, however, get two doses of the vaccine, delivered at least 21 days apart.
Children who have already had Covid may only need one dose.
The protocol for vaccinating younger children is slightly different from the 12-18 age group and all children will need to be accompanied to their appointment by at least one parent or legal guardian.
At the appointment, the parent will be asked to fill out the pre-vaccine medical questionnaire, specially adapted for younger children – you can find a copy of the form here.
The child’s second parent, who is not allowed to attend the appointment, is required to give written permission for the vaccination to go ahead, in the form of an attestation sur l’honneur. You can find a template here.
Parents will also need to sign a parental authorisation form. Like the medical questionnaire, this will be available at the vaccine centre, but you can also find a copy here.
Compulsory for a health pass?
At present the health pass is only required for children aged 12 and over to access venues such as cinemas, cafés and leisure centres and there are no plans to change that. Younger children will not need to upload their vaccination certificates to the health pass.
The vaccination for children is not compulsory and – like 12-18s – it is not required for school, although unvaccinated children do have to follow a stricter health protocol if there is a Covid outbreak in their class.
The choice of five as the lower age limit for the vaccine was out of the French government’s hands – it is the age that vaccine manufacturers applied for and were given licenses for, based on their own clinical trials.
Why vaccinate youngsters?
Children typically do not develop the most severe forms of the virus, so there is some discussion on whether they should be vaccinated.
The French government gives two reasons for recommending vaccination for younger children, although stresses that it remains the parent’s choice.
The first is that, while unusual, children can become seriously ill from Covid. According to health minister Olivier Véran there are currently 190 children in hospital with Covid, of whom 35 are in intensive care.
The second reason is that younger children can spread the infection to adults, who are more likely to become seriously ill. Before schools broke up for the Christmas holidays the 6-10 age group was showing one of the highest incidence rates among the general population. Outbreaks in schools can also lead to closure of classes with consequent disruption to children’s education.
Find full details on the vaccination protocol here.