The French government is considering requiring a third jab of a coronavirus vaccine in order for people to continue to qualify for the country’s vaccine passport, which is required to access many public spaces including cafes, bars, and restaurants.
France’s Pass Sanitaire (health pass) vaccine passport system has already been extended by the National Assembly until at least next summer, and now the government is mulling a requirement for a third jab.
President Emmanuel Macron’s spokesman Gabriel Attal told the French broadcaster La Chaîne Info that no formal decision has been made on the requirement. However, Attal said that the idea is “gaining ground” as a means of increasing uptake of booster shots.
Currently, out of the six million people eligible for a third jab, only two million have come forward to take it.
The Minister of Health Olivier Véran said that the government will be looking to have at least 22 million citizens receive the third dose.
According to Public Health France data published by Le Parisien, 73.8 per cent of the French people have been fully vaccinated, with 75.7 per cent receiving at least one dose of a vaccine.
Following a meeting with the Pope on Monday, Prime Minister Jean Castex said that the government will look to the opinion of the HAS (French National Authority for Health) before making a decision. However, other reports have suggested that it will be up to the government to make the determination first.
“The question of suspending the vaccination pass for a third dose will be submitted to arbitration by the President of the Republic and the Prime Minister. Then, if it is validated, an opinion will be required from the HAS and the Scientific Council,” a government source told BMFTV.
While the majority of the French public supports the vaccine passport system, a poll conducted by Odoxa-Backbone Consulting for the Le Figaro newspaper found that requiring a third dose for the pass could “change everything”. The survey found that nearly six in ten (58 per cent) are opposed to making health papers dependent on a third jab.
There has also been some pushback within the medical establishment in France against the notion, including from Professor Yves Buisson of the National Academy of Medicine, who described it as a “bad idea”. Prof Buisson argued that the focus of the government should be on ensuring all people have had two doses of the vaccine, rather than “bothering” people to get a booster shot.
The head of immunology at the Henri-Mondor hospital in Créteil, Jean-Daniel Lelièvre warned, however, that if the third jab is not required, it could result in a coronavirus “catastrophe” in France by the “end of the year”.
The third dose requirement for vaccine passports has already been implemented in other countries, such as Israel.
Concerns over personal liberty and privacy rights have seen hundreds of thousands of people take to the streets of France in protest over the past few months.
The ability of the French government to keep the system secure was thrown into question after President Macron and Prime Minister Castex had their personal vaccine passports hacked last month.
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