French medical authorities recommend some vaccines and require others. What is the schedule for vaccines in France and how much of the costs are covered by health insurance?
Vaccinations in France are available for all residents of the country; the French government provides a wealth of information about vaccinations. However, it might be tricky to make the difference between compulsory and recommended vaccinations. Read our guide to know the most important information about vaccinations in France.
France played a major role in the history of vaccinations. The first noted use of preventive inoculations was in China during the 10th century to protect against smallpox; however, Louis Pasteur developed the modern concept of vaccination in the 19th century, after which vaccines become a core part of contemporary medicine.
- The French vaccination system
- Insurance for vaccinations in France
- Vaccinations for children in France
- Vaccinations for special groups in France
- Travel vaccinations in France
- Useful resources
COVID-19 in France
The COVID-19 pandemic has been a difficult time for everyone. Many expats find themselves separated from family and loved ones in their home countries. As a foreigner, it is also sometimes difficult to find critical information regarding coronavirus infection rates, local measures and restrictions, and now, thankfully, vaccinations.
- For general coronavirus information in France, including vaccination schedules and the latest restrictions, visit the official Coronavirus (COVID-19) website
- For dedicated information on how the COVID-19 pandemic affects foreign nationals living in France, visit the French government’s COVID-19 diplomatic website
The French vaccination system
In France, there are mandatory and recommended vaccinations, reflecting the history of vaccination in France. Before the arrival of vaccinations against diphtheria, tetanus, and poliomyelitis, these diseases were real plagues, responsible for several thousand child deaths per year in France. As a result, the French government took strong action by making them mandatory for all children in the country.
Each year, the Ministry of Health and the Haute Autorité de Santé (the High Authority of Health) fix the vaccinations applicable to residents of France according to their age.
As a matter of fact, France has one of the most robust health systems in the world. If you want to know more about it, read more about healthcare in France.
Insurance for vaccinations in France
The coverage of vaccinations by health insurance depends on the vaccine, the health professional you visit, or the place where the inoculation is made.
If the vaccination is done by a doctor or a midwife or in a health center, the consultation and also the vaccination itself are 70% covered by public health insurance.
If the vaccination is done by a nurse on a medical prescription, 60% of the costs are covered. In general, complementary health insurance refunds the remaining amount. Those with certain long-term conditions receive full coverage for vaccinations, while pregnant women receive full coverage starting in the sixth month of pregnancy.
In addition, private health insurance companies in France may provide more comprehensive coverage for vaccinations. There is a wide variety of private health insurance companies offering plans in France, including:
Immunizations for children under six years of age and pregnant women and in vaccination centers are free of charge.
For more details, read our guide about health insurance in France.
Vaccinations for children in France
Immunizations against diphtheria, tetanus, poliomyelitis, whooping cough, Hemophilus influenzae b, hepatitis B, meningococcus C, pneumococcus, measles, mumps, and rubella are mandatory for all children born on or after 1 January 2018.
The schedule for vaccinations in France is highly detailed from birth and contains a wide variety of inoculations, including the following:
- From birth: Tuberculosis. Children who are at-risk for contracting tuberculosis should receive the BCG vaccine.
- Two months: Diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, poliomyelitis (polio), invasive infections with Hemophilus influenzae type b (Hib), Hepatitis B (first dose).
- Four months: Diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, poliomyelitis (polio), invasive infections with Hemophilus influenzae type b (Hib), Hepatitis B (second dose).
- 11 months: Diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, poliomyelitis (polio), invasive infections with Hemophilus influenzae type b (Hib), Hepatitis B (booster).
- 12 months: Invasive meningococcal infections, Measles, mumps, rubella.
- Between 16 and 18 months: Measles, mumps, rubella (second dose).
- Six years: Diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, poliomyelitis (polio) (second booster).
- Between 11 and 13 years: Diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, poliomyelitis (polio) (third booster).
For additional information about the vaccination calendar and its annual update, consult the Institut Pasteur or also check directly with your doctor.
Vaccinations for special groups in France
French health authorities also recommend that anyone 65 years of age or older receive vaccinations against these diseases:
- Diphtheria, Tetanus, Poliomyelitis: Booster at 65 years of age and then every 10 years.
- Seasonal flu: Vaccination every year for all people aged 65 and over.
- Zona: One inoculation between 65 and 74 years old.
Make sure to discuss any vaccination project with a health specialist first in case of major changes in your life.
Travel vaccinations in France
Vaccination requirements for entering France may also exist depending on your nationality; check with a French embassy or consulate in your area before you travel to France.
Make sure you are up-to-date on routine vaccines before every trip. These vaccines include measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis, varicella (chickenpox), and polio. In addition, get your yearly flu shot.
Ask your doctor what vaccines and medicines you will need before you go. A doctor will also advise you based on where you are traveling, for how long, and in which conditions.
Rabies is present in bats in France. Thankfully, it doesn’t a major risk to most travelers. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend the rabies vaccine for those traveling outdoors or remote areas that put them at risk for bat bites.