World

France looks to help those vaccinated outside EU get a COVID-19 health pass

August 05, 2021
The French government says it is working on a process for people vaccinated outside the European Union to obtain a COVID health pass. — Courtesy file photo
The French government says it is working on a process for people vaccinated outside the European Union to obtain a COVID health pass. — Courtesy file photo

PARIS — The French government says it is working on a process for people vaccinated outside the European Union to obtain a COVID health pass.

It comes just days before the pass — which provides a QR code as proof an individual has been fully vaccinated — will be required to access restaurants and bars.

"Our goal is to allow tourists from outside the European area, already present in France and with approved EU vaccines, to start having access to the health pass from Aug. 9. We are setting up a system that will gradually be extended," Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne, the state secretary for tourism, said on Thursday, without specifying any more details.

Some of those jabbed outside the EU have been able to get doctors or pharmacies to recognize foreign vaccination cards and issue them a French health pass.

But others have tried without any luck.

Ariana Jorge, a 34-year-old teacher from the US, moved to France last month but was vaccinated in New Jersey. She tried to get a health pass from a local pharmacy but the pharmacists said they couldn't verify her vaccine card.

"They saw the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) card as unofficial since it isn’t signed. So I provided an official letter from my state that has the emblem and signature and they still wouldn’t help," she said.

Jorge eventually received her health pass on Thursday through the system for French citizens vaccinated overseas, because she is married to a French person.

That process was unveiled just two days ago, with a link informing citizens how to get their QR codes.

Lemoyne told France Inter that at least 20,000 people had requested a QR code through this system. He said the government was trying to respond to requests as quickly as possible but emphasized that there was high demand for a QR code.

The health pass has already been required since July 21 for events with more than 50 people. But it is set to be required in restaurants and bars from Monday, Aug. 9.

Some embassies said they were unsure what people vaccinated abroad could do.

"As of July 21, the French government has not provided official information on obtaining a health pass for people vaccinated outside the European Union," the US embassy wrote on their website.

"While some people have been able to have their information entered into the French system by a French doctor or pharmacist, others have been told this is not possible. At this time, the Embassy is not aware of the extent to which it is still possible to have the U.S. information entered into the French system."

Across social media, many expats have recounted how French health professionals can enter foreign vaccine information into the system, with several saying their doctors helped them out.

Willing healthcare workers can complete the process for people with French social security cards by entering a postal code as "99" to choose a foreign country and selecting "other lot" to enter a foreign vaccine lot number.

For expats and tourists who have been able to convert their cards, it's a big relief as the unvaccinated soon face renewed restrictions unless they're tested regularly.

Jorge says she's happy the process is now being resolved.

"I think that the process should have been made available prior to the announcement. It would have avoided a lot of panic from many people," Jorge said, adding that "at least it is now available and our concerns were clearly heard."

"We are still in the first week of August so at least it wasn’t delayed for too long." — Euronews


August 05, 2021
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