Reader Question: Can I specify the dual-strain vaccine when getting my Covid booster in France?

France recently expanded the eligibility for receiving a second Covid-19 booster shot, but many are asking whether it is possible to specifically request one of the new dual-strain vaccines when booking.

Reader Question: Can I specify the dual-strain vaccine when getting my Covid booster in France?
Health worker prepares a dose of Moderna Covid-19 booster vaccine in Toulouse on December 9, 2021. (Photo by GEORGES GOBET / AFP)

Question: I am qualified, by age and by time elapsed since my first Covid booster, for a fourth shot. But I want to make sure that my fourth shot will be one of the new dual-strain vaccines. Is this possible?

French health authorities launched the autumn booster campaign on October 3rd, which includes newly authorised bivalent (dual-strain) vaccines – such as the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine adapted to BA.1, the Moderna vaccine adapted to BA.1, and the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine adapted to BA.4/5 – which are designed to combat the Omicron variant.

France’s health authority, the Haut Autorité de Santé said in a press release on September 20th that “the expected clinical efficacy of these new dual-strain vaccines is at least equivalent or even superior to that of the original vaccines.”

READ MORE: When, where and how to get flu shots and Covid boosters this autumn in France

So is it possible to specify when booking that you want the dual-strain vaccine?

The Local spoke with representatives from the French ministry of health, who specified on Friday that “dual-strain (bivalent) vaccines will be injected as a priority during the autumn campaign in accordance with the HAS recommendations.”

For those who are eligible to renew their booster dose, it is therefore “not necessary to specify that they want a bivalent vaccine, since we will have enough doses for the entire target audience.”

France’s General Health Directorate told the Journal des Femmes that the two most commonly used vaccines for its fall campaign are “the Comirnaty Original/Omicron BA.4-5 vaccine (by Pfizer) and the Spikevax bivalent Original/ Omicron BA.1 vaccine (by Moderna).”

Data for the last two weeks show that of the 112,409 people in France who received a second booster dose, 77,715 were vaccinated with the new Pfizer dual-strain vaccine, and 34,694 were vaccinated with the new Moderna Omicron-adapted product – meaning that everyone got a dual-strain vaccine.

You can find the whole list of those who are eligible for a second (or third) booster HERE.

READ MORE: Reader Question: Can I get a third Covid booster shot in France?

Additionally, health authorities have been recommending that anyone who is eligible should receive their booster shot. 

Before the dual-strain vaccines were authorised, French health authorities recommended at-risk groups to receive booster vaccines as soon as possible, rather than waiting for the availability of the Omicron-adapted jabs.

“For people at risk, either the elderly or those with co-morbidities, it is necessary to give the fourth dose as long as the virus is circulating, and therefore as of now,” infectious diseases specialist Anne-Claude Crémieux told Le Parisien over the summer.

Crémieux added that vaccines not-adapted to Omicron subvariants have also “been proven to be effective against severe forms of the disease”.

If you have already had a booster with the original vaccine and now want an additional dual-strain booster this is possible, although you must wait either thee months (if you are over 80 or the resident of a nursing home) or six months (for other at-risk groups) after your most recent booster.

Additionally, TF1 reported on Friday that Santé publique France (France’s public health agency) was calling for an intensification of the ongoing vaccine campaign, because only 30.4 percent of 60-79 year olds had received their second booster dose as of October 10th, and only 37.7 percent of over 80s – the group most vulnerable to severe forms of Covid-19 – had received their new booster. 

France is currently seeing a continued rise in cases amid the eighth wave of Covid-19, and the number of new positive cases rose by 13 percent in one week, as of October 11th.

Santé publique France referenced this during its weekly bulletin, saying that “the circulation of Covid-19 – and hospital admissions – continue to increase throughout metropolitan France.”

“Given the current situation and the diminished adoption of preventive measures, vaccination must be reinforced, in particular by a booster with a bivalent vaccine,” the agency wrote.

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How and where can I get a flu vaccine in France?

Looking to get a flu shot in France and not sure how to go about it? Here is what you need to know about the autumn 2023 campaign.

How and where can I get a flu vaccine in France?

France will begin its seasonal flu vaccination campaign in mid October. Every year there are sight variations to the practicalities of the campaign, so there’s how things will work in 2023.


In France, health authorities recommend that high-risk groups, including both get the jab – but anyone who wants the shot can get it.

Members of high-risk groups should receive a flu vaccine voucher (bon de prise en charge), which you can take to a pharmacist who will provide you with a vaccine free of charge. 

Previously, the French government has defined high-risk groups as older people (over 65s), people with certain chronic illnesses (list here), pregnant women, obese people and caregivers who work with vulnerable populations.

People who fit the description of ‘high-risk’ ought to receive a voucher, but if this is your first time getting a flu shot in France, or you haven’t your voucher yet, you can visit your doctor who can prescribe it for you. Then you can bring that prescription to the pharmacist who will provide you with the vaccine.

For high-risk people, the flu vaccine is free of charge.

What about people who are not ‘high-risk’?

Although not specifically recommended, the vaccine is open to anyone who wants it. In previous years, France instituted ‘priority period’ during the first couple of weeks of the campaign when it was only open to those in high risk groups, before opening up the shots to everyone. 

However, health authorities have indicated that the 2023-2024 season will do away with the ‘prioritisation period’, meaning anyone, regardless of risk level, can get the flu vaccine as soon as it becomes available.

The difference is that those not considered to be in a high-risk group will have to pay for their vaccine, and in previous years, the flu vaccine has not been reimbursed by French social security. Full details of the 2023 campaign are yet to be confirmed, but there is no indication that this will change this year.

During the 2022-2023 season, the cost for a non-priority person varied between €6 and €10 depending on the pharmacy. 

If you do not have a carte vitale or you are not yet part of France’s social security apparatus, then you can still get a flu vaccine. However, you will likely need to pay full price.

Where can I get a flu vaccine?

Doctors, midwives, nurses and pharmacists can administer flu vaccines, and the most common place to get it is at the pharmacy.

Ask your pharmacist if they are available for walk-in vaccine appointments, as many are. If this is not available, they may ask you to make an appointment, which you can likely do on the spot. 

If you want to be vaccinated outside of a pharmacy, you will still have to go to pick up the vaccine. You will then take it with you to your appointment with your doctor, midwife or nurse. If you are not going directly to your appointment after picking up the vaccine, be sure to keep it cool and refrigerated. 

Appointments for flu vaccines can be made online at Doctolib.

When can I get a flu vaccine?

France typically runs its seasonal flu vaccination campaign starting the autumn and running until March. For 2023, it will begin on October 17th for all groups.

Can I get a Covid-19 and flu shot at the same time?

Health authorities recommend that those in at-risk groups get both Covid-19 and flu jabs, and they have specified that there are no health risks of doing both vaccines at the same time.

The Covid vaccination campaign begins on Monday, October 2nd.

READ MORE: France’s autumn 2023 Covid vaccine booster campaign ‘will be open to all’

Like the flu vaccination, it is recommended that high-risk groups get a Covid vaccine booster – but it remains your choice whether you get one, both or neither.

What about children?

The general seasonal flu vaccination campaign is aimed at adults, but the French Haute autorité de santé recommends that all children over the age of 2 with “co-morbidities” get a seasonal influenza vaccine, meaning children in high-risk groups would also receive a voucher to get a flu shot. 

You can also ask your doctor for a prescription for a vaccination if your children are in a high-risk group. 

As for who can vaccinate them, doctors are qualified to vaccinate all minors, including those under the age of 11. Midwives can also vaccinate any minor who is recommended to get a flu vaccine. 

As of August 2023, both nurses and pharmacists in France gained the ability to prescribe and administer 14 different vaccines – including the one against seasonal influenza – to anyone over the age of 11. As such, minors above 11 can get a flu vaccine in a pharmacy, but those under the age of 11 cannot.