France extends COVID-19 booster shots, requires them for health pass

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French President Macron meets Benin's counterpart Talon in Paris
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PARIS (Reuters) - French President Emmanuel Macron said on Tuesday that those aged 65 and older will need to present proof of a COVID-19 booster shot from mid-December for health passes that give access to restaurants, trains and planes to remain valid.

Besides, the third shot, so far available only for people older than 65 and the vulnerable, will from early December also be available for the 50-64 age group, Macron said in a televised address.

"Since the end of summer, a campaign has been launched to protect people over 65 as well as the most fragile among us. Today we must accelerate," Macron said.

"If you have been vaccinated more than six months ago, I call on you to book an appointment for a booster shot. From December 15, you will need to show proof of a booster shot to extend the validity of your health pass."

The health pass is required to enter restaurants and bars, to go to the gym or a conference, and for long-distance train and plane journeys.

Macron also urged those not yet vaccinated to do so. "To those not yet vaccinated: Get vaccinated. Get vaccinated to protect yourselves. Get vaccinated to live normally," the president said. "We are not done yet with the pandemic."

Macron said Europe was seeing a fifth wave of coronavirus infections and that in France there had been an alarming rise in the number of COVID-19 hospital patients and in the spread of cases.

France registered 12,476 new confirmed infections on Tuesday, the highest level since Sept. 8, health ministry data showed.

Macron's last major televised speech was on July 12 at the start of a fourth wave of infections. He announced then that the COVID-19 health pass was extended to a wide list of venues, which led to a big increase in vaccination rates.

(Reporting by GV De Clercq, Tangi Salaun, Sudip Kar-Gupta, Richard Lough; Writing by Ingrid Melander; editing by Grant McCool)

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