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Reader question: Do I need a Covid vaccine booster shot to travel to France?

The French government is pushing a booster dose campaign as one of its key strategies in the fight against Covid, and for many a booster is a requirement for a vaccine pass. But what is the situation for travellers?

A man receives a booster dose in France.
A man receives a booster dose in France. We take a look at whether these extra injections are needed for travel. (Photo by CLEMENT MAHOUDEAU / AFP)

Question: I plan to travel to France next week but have still not received a booster dose. Do I need to get one before I leave? 

France has a traffic light system for travel, with countries listed as either green, amber or red. If you are unvaccinated, then you will face different restrictions on travel to France depending on what category country you are travelling from – full details HERE.

For now though, French border authorities are not taking into account whether or not you have had a booster dose.

This means that if you are vaccinated but haven’t received a booster dose, you will not face the extra travel restrictions.

The French Health Ministry told The Local: “a booster is not yet required to leave or return to France.” 

To count as fully vaccinated for travel purposes, you must meet the following conditions:

  • Have received a vaccine that is approved by the European Medicines Agency – Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca or Johnson & Johnson (also known as Janssen). The Indian-produced Covishield vaccine is also now accepted by France 
  • Be at least seven days after the second injection for double-dose vaccines or after a single dose for those people who had previously had Covid-19
  • Be at least 28 days after the injection for people who had the single dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine
  • People who have received a vaccine that is recognised by the World Health Organisation but not yet approved for use by the EMA can travel to France if they have had a ‘top up’ single dose of either Pfizer or Moderna 

Both EU and non-EU vaccination certificates are accepted at the border.

The vaccine pass 

However, although you can enter France without a booster, you may find your life curtailed once you are here.

In France, a vaccine pass is required to access sites like bars, restaurants, cinemas and tourist sites such as museums and galleries – and a booster is required for a valid vaccine pass.

The vaccine pass requires a booster shot if more than seven months has passed since your last vaccine dose (or two months if they you vaccinated with Janssen) – and this rule is the same for French residents and visitors or tourists.

Full details here.

From February 15th, you must have received a booster dose if more than four months has passed since your last dose (or two months for Janssen).

If you have had the booster then you are entitled to a vaccine pass – the seven or four-month limits refer only to people who have not had a booster.

The booster rule does not apply to under 18s.

Foreign vaccination certificates

If you were vaccinated in an EU or Schengen zone country, your vaccination certificate and booster is fully compatible with the French health pass.

Those vaccinated outside the EU, however, will need to covert their vaccination certificates into a French code once they arrive in the country – here’s how

If you were vaccinated in England, Wales or Scotland, the NHS vaccination certificate is now compatible with the French health pass app, but there is a technical point you should be aware of:

NHS vaccination codes are only valid for 30 days and since the deactivation programme began, the Tous Anti Covid app also deactivates expired NHS codes, meaning that those vaccinated in the UK must download a new NHS code every 30 days and add it to the French app in order to keep their pass working.

If your pass is deactivated, here’s how to reactivate it.

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Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

The mandatory EU-wide mask requirement for air travel is set to be dropped from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still require passengers to wear masks on some or all flights

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

Europe-wide facemask rules on flights are set to be ditched as early as next week in light of new recommendations from health and air safety experts.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) dropped recommendations for mandatory mask-wearing in airports and during flights in updated Covid-19 safety measures for travel issued on Wednesday, May 11th.

The new rules are expected to be rolled out from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still continue to require the wearing of masks on some or all of flights. And the updated health safety measures still say that wearing a face mask remains one of the best ways to protect against the transmission of the virus.

The joint EASA/ECDC statement reminded travellers that masks may still be required on flights to destinations in certain countries that still require the wearing of masks on public transport and in transport hubs.

It also recommends that vulnerable passengers should continue to wear a face mask regardless of the rules, ideally an FFP2/N95/KN95 type mask which offers a higher level of protection than a standard surgical mask.

“From next week, face masks will no longer need to be mandatory in air travel in all cases, broadly aligning with the changing requirements of national authorities across Europe for public transport,” EASA executive director Patrick Ky said in the statement. 

“For passengers and air crews, this is a big step forward in the normalisation of air travel. Passengers should however behave responsibly and respect the choices of others around them. And a passenger who is coughing and sneezing should strongly consider wearing a face mask, for the reassurance of those seated nearby.”  

ECDC director Andrea Ammon added: “The development and continuous updates to the Aviation Health Safety Protocol in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic have given travellers and aviation personnel better knowledge of the risks of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and its variants. 

“While risks do remain, we have seen that non-pharmaceutical interventions and vaccines have allowed our lives to begin to return to normal. 

“While mandatory mask-wearing in all situations is no longer recommended, it is important to be mindful that together with physical distancing and good hand hygiene it is one of the best methods of reducing transmission. 

“The rules and requirements of departure and destination states should be respected and applied consistently, and travel operators should take care to inform passengers of any required measures in a timely manner.”