The French health pass holds lessons for mandatory COVID-19 vaccination

January 12, 2022

Jeremy K. Ward, Fatima Gauna, et. al.

Nature Medicine

A COVID-19 based health passport called “passe sanitaire” was introduce in France in August 2021, requiring everyone aged over 12 years to present proof of vaccination or a negative test result to access many public spaces and amenities. This was accompanied by increased vaccine availability and appointments in vaccination centers. These significantly increased the number of people vaccinated following a previous plateau in vaccine uptake. The key messages were that the pass was effective in encouraging vaccination, including in reluctant parties. The pass was somewhat limited in its effectiveness as it did not address all barriers to vaccination. For many people, the health pass had little impact, because the elderly, low income and most marginalized tend not to engage as much with the activities covered by the pass. The health pass encouraged vaccination of many who were hesitant or reluctant, but overall it did not reduce hesitancy itself due to public distrust in the political system and the current government. Lessons from passe sanitaire suggest that mandatory vaccination can be effective in raising vaccination rates, but it does not solve all of the issues that affect uptake and runs the risk of politicizing vaccination further and reinforcing distrust of vaccines. Diverse public health outreach programs and sustained efforts to motivate those who are hesitant should be the focus of any COVID-19 vaccination policy overall.

Ward JK, Gauna F, Gagneux-Brunon A, et al. The French health pass holds lessons for mandatory COVID-19 vaccination. Nat Med 2021 2022; : 1–3.