Over-65s without Covid booster jabs will lose their ‘health pass’ – which allows them to visit cafes or cinemas – from today under new rules in France
- The pass was introduced in the summer and has widely been seen as a success
- It makes full vaccination, recent recovery or negative test a requirement to enter any restaurant or cafe, inter-city train travel and going to some cultural venues
- Now, a change in rules will mean over-65s will required a booster jab as well
- The rule, which further tightens one of the tightest health pass systems in Europe, will from January 15 be expanded across all age groups
Over-65s in France without Covid-19 booster jabs will lose their ‘health pass’ under new rules being implemented from today.
The pass was introduced in the summer and makes full vaccination against Covid-19, a recent recovery or negative test obligatory for visiting any restaurant or cafe, inter-city train travel and going to cultural venues like cinemas or museums.
The change in rules comes as the country begins implementing a new tightening of restrictions in the fight against the virus, which like many countries in Europe has seen a recent resurgence due to the spread of the Omicron variant.
Over-65s in France without Covid-19 booster jabs will lose their ‘health pass’ under new rules being implemented from today. Pictured: Security personnel check a COVID-19 health pass to access a Christmas market in Strasbourg, eastern France, December 3, 2021 [file photo]
Championed by President Emmanuel Macron as he eyes re-election in 2022, the health pass is widely seen as being a success, despite initial protests, by encouraging people who were hesitant to become vaccinated.
The government says some 400,000 people aged 65 and over who are eligible for the booster shot have yet to take it, which is 12 percent of those aged 80 and above and 10 percent of those aged 65 to 79.
People in the 65 plus age group who have failed to take up the booster shot will see the QR code in their health pass generated by a mobile phone app automatically dis-activated.
The rule, which further tightens one of the tightest health pass systems in Europe, will from January 15 be expanded across all age groups.
The only option for people without a booster – other than to get one – will be to have a negative test a maximum of 24 hours old.
France has already carried out almost 16 million booster shots and is confident of reaching its target of 20 million before Christmas.
Championed by President Emmanuel Macron (pictured on Wednesday in Brussels) as he eyes re-election in 2022, the health pass is widely seen as being a success, despite initial protests, by encouraging people who were hesitant to become vaccinated
France reported on Tuesday over 63,400 positive Covid tests, the highest figure since April, while almost 2,800 people are in intensive care with the illness. Pictured: A graph showing the seven-day rolling average of new Covid-19 cases in France
Pictured: A graph showing the seven-day rolling average of new coronavirus deaths in France
The booster is now seen as a key weapon in defeating the Omicron variant which experts believe spreads faster than previous Covid variants and could become dominant in Europe in the next few weeks.
France reported on Tuesday over 63,400 positive Covid tests, the highest figure since April, while almost 2,800 people are in intensive care with the illness.
Over 76 percent of people have been double vaccinated in France and children deemed at risk can be jabbed from Wednesday, with vaccinations soon also expected to fully opened to the very young.
Meanwhile, Greece, Italy and a handful of other European Union nations began vaccinating children aged five to 11 against COVID-19 on Wednesday as EU governments braced both for a holiday season of gatherings.
Acrobats dressed as superheroes rappelled down the walls of a hospital in Milan, Italy, as the city prepared to join the new vaccine rollout.
Wearing capes and bodysuits, they stopped to greet patients through the windows at a pandemic ward and other children at a pediatric wing.
Pictured: A woman scans the compulsory health pass of a customer, to fight the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, at a Christmas market in Colmar, France, December 14, 2021
Youngsters getting their first shot in Greece were given stickers and the day off from school.
Greece administered its first shots to younger children hours after authorities announced the country’s highest daily death toll of the pandemic: 130 people.
Dr. Franco Locatelli, the head of Italy’s Superior Health Council who guided the country through the first wave of the pandemic, urged Italian families to take part in the new vaccine program, hoping to boost the country’s already high vaccination rate amid a new spike in infections.
‘Consider this an appeal to all families,’ Locatelli said. ‘Take advantage of this opportunity. Talk to your pediatrician. Vaccinate your children. Do it for them.
‘Show them how much you love your children by giving them the maximum protection possible,’ he said.
Spain and Hungary also expanded their vaccination programs to younger children. EU regulators last month approved a reduced-dose vaccine made by Pfizer-BioNTech for use in the 5-11 age group.
A two-month surge in infections across Europe eased slightly in early December, but the appearance of the omicron variant has created uncertainty.
According to an analysis Tuesday of data from South Africa, where omicron is driving a surge in infections, the variant seems to be more easily spread from person to person and better at evading vaccines, but also milder.
Acrobatic superheroes greet the children hospitalised in the paediatric ward of the San Paolo hospital in Milan, Italy, December 15, 2021 to encourage booster jabs
Germany and Spain are among the European nations to start vaccinating younger children from Wednesday in a bid to keep schools open. Pictured: 11-year-old Sarah Carlsen receives a vaccination against the coronavirus on November 28, 2021 in Amagar, Denmark
Pictured: A graph showing the seven-day average daily new confirmed Covid-19 cases per million people in Germany, Spain, Greece, Hungary, Austria, Denmark and the UK. The six EU countries shown are starting to roll out vaccines for five to 11-year-olds
A top EU official said Wednesday that the bloc expects omicron to dominate infections in the EU by mid-January.
The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control suggested that governments consider travel-related restrictions and press ahead with vaccination campaigns and booster shots.
Vaccines for children are voluntary in all EU countries and require parental approval.
Some EU nations are taking a more cautious approach to vaccinating younger children.
Germany has started a region-based rollout, the Netherlands is waiting until after the holidays and France is prioritizing children who suffer from heart and respiratory problems, obesity, and diabetes.
Britain was slower than many European countries to start vaccinating children ages 12-15, and it has not yet approved vaccines for younger children.
Wei Shen Lim, a member of the U.K.’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization, said the group expected to make a decision before Christmas but was awaiting a recommendation from British regulators.
Conservative lawmaker Jeremy Hunt, a former health minister, criticized the delay on approving vaccines for younger children. ‘Our regulators, having been the nimblest in the world, are now taking too long,’ he said.
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