After months of slowing uptake on low overall vaccination rates, French President Macron has made the covid vaccine very hard to avoid, without making it mandatory:

In an address to the nation, Macron announced that from next month anyone wanting to go out to eat or drink, take a long-distance train or visit a shopping centre will need to show either proof of vaccination or a negative test.

The so-called “health pass” will also be needed to attend a festival, a theatre show or a cinema screening as part of the government’s strategy to tackle the surging number of new cases linked to the Delta variant.

Mandatory vaccinations had been suggested by some doctors, as a way to push up vaccination rates in one of the West's most vaccine-hesitant nations. And rejected by Macron.

Note that Macron has also made the vaccine mandatory for health care workers (this is for additional info/background and is not a primary part of this question)

The mandatory vaccinations will apply to anyone who comes into contact with vulnerable people, and therefore applies to everyone who works in hospitals, clinics and care homes, regardless of their role.

They must be vaccinated by 15 September or risk not being paid, Health Minister Olivier Véran told France's LCI television.

My question is: what measures are in place to limit the impact to those who, for valid medical reasons, can't take the vaccine? Are they also required to show frequent negative tests? Or is there a certified medical opt-out document?

  • Are you asking about the "health pass" or the vaccinations for health care workers? The answers for these two will likely be very different, so if you're interested in both, I'd suggest two separate questions.
    – Joe C
    Jul 15, 2021 at 19:46
  • Primarily the health pass for the general public. The question however is about what people who can't get vaccinated have to do to comply, so the health care workers may have similar accommodations going on. Jul 15, 2021 at 19:48
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    Votes to close and reasons: "speculation on internal motivations": I am not asking about motivation, I am asking on what the French government has communicated to date about this subject, which is the exact opposite. Not about a government policy? We have a number of questions already about governments' Covid medical and immunization policies. Jul 16, 2021 at 14:59
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    Can't help thinking that the whole thing could be a strategic bluff: the goal is to maximize the number of people who get vaccinated, and hesitant people get vaccinated because of the announcement of the measure... So potentially the goal could be reached without even applying it. It's certainly a form of coercion, but technically it's not any kind of freedom infringement if enforcement is only a threat.
    – Erwan
    Jul 16, 2021 at 22:13
  • @Erwan maybe. I think it's more that he wants to make it as inconvenient as possible not to vax without the "political cost" of a straight out mandatory vax ruling. Besides health workers, retail, entertainment and service workers also seem to have mandatory vax requirements, in Fizz top link. Jul 17, 2021 at 20:17

1 Answer 1


Keep in mind that this is just a bill that hasn't passed into law yet ("avant-projet de loi"). And yeah, there's an exemption in there for medical conditions, even though it's not been discussed in the press.

un justificatif de statut vaccinal concernant la covid-19 [...]

Les personnes qui justifient, par la présentation d'un certificat médical, d'une contre-indication à la vaccination sont exemptées des obligations d'immunisation mentionnées au I.


a certificate of vaccination status regarding covid-19 [...]

Individuals presenting a medical certificate indicating a contraindication to vaccination are exempted from immunization obligations mentioned in I.

As the details of all this stuff, e.g. how the checks are going to be performed by e.g. supermarkets are still being ironed out, don't expect more detail than that on what the exemptions are going to be or how they are going to recorded.

As @Jontia mentioned in a comment, after a closer look, the exemption via a medical certificate ("doctor's note/excuse" in the more familiar English term[s]) seems to apply only to a section that deals with mandatory vaccinations for professionals who interact with the public. (The wording is in fact similar to that that deals with other vaccinations in the present 2013 law on that.) As the law proposal stands now, it seems there would be no exemption e.g. from presenting the alternative negative Covid-19 test result in other circumstances, e.g. going to an event or whatever else the French legislators will decide this health pass is going to be used for, but only for [continued] employment purposes.

(Among other lacunae of the current provisions, even EU-approved vaccines administered abroad don't count towards this French pass...)

In more recent developments, there's now an "avis" of HAS (the "High" public health authority) on this law proposal. It outlines that indeed the law would provide an exemption:

Le projet de loi prévoit :

des exemptions en cas de contre-indication à la vaccination. Ainsi, « les personnes qui justifient, par la présentation d'un certificat médical, d'une contre-indication à la vaccination sont exemptées des obligations d'immunisation »;

but they don't seem to discuss that the exemption seems to be only for employment purposes... although they do spend like 3 more paras recommending that the mandate for obligatory vaccincations should be enlarged. I guess they consider that the going-to-events bit is not mandatory... or something like that.

I'll also note from related articles that the government has had it some of its Covid-19 laws overturned by the Constitutional Council, e.g. the one dealing with religious events (this might sound familiar to the similar lawsuits in the US).

Since the start of the pandemic, the government’s Council of State has consistently underscored the importance of freedom of worship, which is protected under France’s constitution.

In November 2020, France's highest administrative court overturned the 30-person maximum capacity for religious ceremonies, a restriction initially imposed by the government. In their decision, the judges considered that the activities carried out in places of worship "are not of the same nature" as those in cinemas or theatres and that "the fundamental freedoms at stake are not the same".

So it's still somewhat unclear how much of this will hold water. As also noted in the French press, the Constituional Concil did give the go-ahead in May to the current scheme of the health pass... precisely because it only applies to "grand gatherings". (The left-wing deputies had submitted an objection that the law was too broad.) The CC also held precise enough the notion of "entertainment event" to exclude e.g. political gatherings; see #18 in full text. So it's a bit unclear if the Constitutional Council will approve of the health pass requirement for the "lesser" everyday things that the new proposal wants to apply this to (restaurants etc.)

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    Can you translate the french excerpt into English for us non French speakers please? Jul 16, 2021 at 13:12
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    Google translate makes it "People who justify, by presenting a medical certificate, a contraindication to vaccination are exempt from the immunization obligations mentioned in I." Which without section I means I don't know if they are exempt from getting vaccinated, or from the Health Card issues.
    – Jontia
    Jul 16, 2021 at 14:39
  • Looks good. I'll see what else comes up, maybe by French users. Didn't know you could speak French. I looked but saw nothing, I guess it's still being ironed out. In the meantime, they're certainly boosting uptake now ;-) Jul 16, 2021 at 14:56

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