Many French people living outside the European Union will return to France for the summer holidays. Vaccinated against Covid-19 in their country of residence, many of them thought they could take advantage of the health pass, but the French authorities are struggling to recognize their vaccination.
“Can we download the health pass?”, “How to obtain a vaccination certificate with QR code?”, “Can I be vaccinated in France with my passport?” : on the Health Insurance website, the list of questions from French people living abroad is growing day by day. Because if, since the entry into force, Thursday, July 1, of the European health pass, French expatriates in a country of the European Union can easily have their vaccination against Covid-19 recognized, these steps sometimes represent a headache. for French people living in Africa, Latin America and Asia.
When arriving on French soil, these nationals (approximately 2.5 million people according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs) must present a vaccination certificate from the country of residence. But a lot of times they don’t know how to do it.
“Residing in the United States, we have been vaccinated against Covid there and have paper certificates from the US CDC [les Centres pour le contrôle et la prévention des maladies, l’agence de santé fédérale aux États-Unis, NDLR]. We are going to travel to France in June. How can we get by then a QR code that contains proof of these vaccinations performed in the United States? “, For example asked a user on the Social Security forum.
Vaccination certificates that arouse mistrust in France
“The QR code, allowing the vaccination certificate to be recorded on the TousAntiCovid application, is currently only provided by health professionals to people who have been vaccinated in France”, then replied the Health Insurance. Why such a blockage? “The authorities fear that these documents are falsified”, explains Évelyne Renaud-Garabedian, senator (LR) representing the French living outside France, contacted by France 24.
“But these French people living outside the EU must be able to benefit from the European health pass. Their vaccination certificate must be recognized and available via a QR code,” she demands. The French authorities had already announced such a device but, according to her, it is “still under study”.
For the moment, the French who have received a vaccine approved by the European Medicines Agency (Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson) must contact the Health Insurance, which can then provide “a foreign vaccination certificate recognized at border level to enter France”.
At the same time, at the level of the European Commission, negotiations are underway. “If the Commission considers that a third country issues certificates which comply […], it can adopt a decision according to which the certificates thus issued by this third country should be accepted under the same conditions as the digital Covid certificates of the EU “, one can read on the website of the Commission. , the vagueness remains. “When I ask the ministry on the vaccination of French people abroad, it tells me that it has no answer to give me”, annoys Évelyne Renaud-Garabedian.
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Another problem encountered by French people living abroad is the vaccines available in their country of residence. Indeed, if the European Medicines Agency (EMA) recognizes four vaccines, the WHO recognizes four additional: those of Sinovac, Sinopharm and the two AstraZeneca serums manufactured in India and South Korea. In some countries outside the EU, no vaccine available is therefore recognized by the AEM.
“I received two doses of the vaccine from Sinopharm but the European Union does not want to hear about it”, points out François Legros, teacher at the French lycée Jean-Mermoz in Dakar, contacted by France 24. “I return to France on Thursday for holidays but I feel frustrated because I will not be considered vaccinated by the authorities. I will not be able to go to concerts for example, “continues this Frenchman living in Senegal.
He could have chosen to be vaccinated with AstraZeneca but the time between the two injections was longer compared to that of Sinopharm. By opting for AstraZeneca, he feared that he would not be fully vaccinated before arriving in France.
“A lack of communication and consistency”
Now, the French is worried about his arrival in his country of origin. “The authorities simply told me that we should do a PCR test before departure,” he said. However, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs specifies that travelers from Senegal must isolate themselves for seven days if they have not received a vaccine validated by the AEM.
Also president of the Solidarity Alliance of French Abroad (ASFE), a movement aimed at defending the interests of French people abroad, Evelyne Renaud-Garabedian says she receives this type of testimony very regularly. The senator denounces “a lack of communication and consistency” on the part of the French authorities.
“I understand that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is overwhelmed but we have entered the summer vacation period: French people abroad want to come back to France to see their families,” she explains. To solve this problem, she asks France “to help the countries where French nationals live and where there are no vaccines recognized by the AEM and to send more vaccines to these countries for the French” .
The other solution would be for the European Union to recognize all vaccines approved by the WHO. This is what the Covax system, which aims to help low and middle-income countries to access vaccines, asked for Thursday. This system is based on the distribution of Covishield vaccines, an Indian version of AstraZeneca not recognized by the European Union. Any measure that only allows people protected by a portion of the vaccines to benefit from returning travel “would create a two-tier system that would further widen the vaccine gap and exacerbate the inequalities we have already seen in the distribution of anti-Covid vaccines.” , ruled Covax.
If, for medical reasons, the French government encourages French people living abroad to be vaccinated in their country of residence, it specifies that it is possible to be vaccinated for free in France without presenting a Vitale card. All you need to do is present a certificate from the Caisse des Français de l’énergie (CFE) if you are a member or an identity document (passport, identity card).
However, it is necessary to be able to remain on French soil the time to receive the two doses of vaccine, which means waiting at least three weeks between the two injections of Pfizer or Moderna and nine minimum for AstraZeneca. So to get around this obstacle, many French people living abroad opt for the Janssen vaccine, which requires only one dose and which can be injected in pharmacies.