France to make Covid booster mandatory for over-65s to access public spaces

France’s over-65s and those deemed high-risk will require a booster jab to use an anti-Covid health pass allowing them to take trains or go to restaurants from December 15, President Emmanuel Macron announced on Tuesday night. 

France is the first country in the European Union to make the third jab mandatory. It is expected that the rule will apply to expats and tourists.

In a televised address – his ninth since the start of the Covid pandemic – Mr Macron told the nation: “Faced with the resurgence of the epidemic, the solution is an extra dose”.

The French president added: “If you have been vaccinated for more than six months, I ask you to book an appointment.”

Starting from December 15, the extension of the health pass will only be granted to the over 65s and “the most fragile” if they can prove they have had a booster, he told the nation.

Mr Macron also extended the booster shot to those aged 50, saying they could start getting the third jab from early December. The precise details would be given “in the coming days”. 

Required for bars, cafes, cultural venues and long-distance trains and planes, France’s health pass provides proof that a person has been vaccinated against Covid, has recently had a negative coronavirus test or has recently recovered from the virus.

Mr Macron said it was thanks to the pass that “we have managed to master this epidemic”.

Initially among the world’s most vaccine-sceptic nations, France has largely caught up with the UK and 51 million people have now been double-jabbed, said Mr Macron.

But the president urged those not yet covered to do so, saying: "To those not yet vaccinated: Get vaccinated. Get vaccinated to protect yourselves. Get vaccinated to live normally.”

Mr Macron said that while a campaign had been launched at the end of the summer to get over 65s booster shots, "today we must accelerate". Only 3.4 million out of the 7.7 million people concerned had taken up the jab to date.

Even before the French president’s announcement, speculation that the booster would become mandatory saw bookings for a third dose rocket, with Doctolib, the online medical appointment service saying they had reached 98,000 on Monday – a record.

Coronavirus France Spotlight Chart – Cases default

While France’s infection rates are still far lower than in the UK, like the rest of Europe, it is now facing a fifth wave.

The country registered almost 12,500 new confirmed infections on Tuesday, the highest level since September 8, according to health ministry data. 

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