France’s Haute Autorité de Santé has stated that people who have already had Covid-19 need only receive a single dose of a vaccine “because they will have already developed an immune memory of the virus”.
The health authority published its recommendation in a report today (February 12).
It recommends that anyone who has had Covid-19, regardless of how long ago, should receive a single dose of a vaccine at least three months after testing positive and ideally as close as possible to six months after.
It stated that people with a known immunodeficiency should be exempt from this strategy and should receive the full two doses.
All three vaccines that have been approved so far in France, those of Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca, normally require two doses to be fully effective.
This is the first time a public health authority has made such a recommendation. The French government usually follows advice set out by the HAS.
The HAS said, though, that it will not be necessary for people to take a serology test before being vaccinated to see if they have had Covid-19.
For anyone who has already had two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine after having also had the virus, there is no danger, the HAS stated.
The authority also said that anyone suffering from persistent Covid-19 symptoms can still receive a vaccination but should consult their GP before doing so, with a decision on how many doses they receive made on a case-by-case basis.
Professor Rémi Salomon, medical commission president for Paris hospital chain AP-HP, said on February 2 that he recommends that anyone who has already had Covid-19 should receive only one dose of vaccines that usually require two doses.
He himself had Covid-19 in March 2020 and decided to get just one dose of a vaccine.
He said that given the shortage of vaccine doses in France, “I think it’s important to be as economical as possible and that’s logical”.
If the French government does adopt this strategy, it could free up doses and allow more people to be vaccinated sooner.