Covid-19 in France

France opens Covid-19 vaccines to all over 50s

A man receives a Covid-19 vaccine jab at a new giant vaccination center run by the Paris' fire brigades in Paris, on 6 May, 2021.
A man receives a Covid-19 vaccine jab at a new giant vaccination center run by the Paris' fire brigades in Paris, on 6 May, 2021. © AP/Michel Euler

From this Monday, all French people aged 50 and over will be able to get vaccinated 'without condition' - five days earlier than initially planned. The health situation remains ‘strained’ in France despite a slow decline in the number of patients admitted to intensive care units which fell to less than 5,000 on Sunday.

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France has opened up its Covid-19 vaccine programme to all over 50s this Monday, while from Wednesday onwards injections will also be accessible to the over 18s when an appointment within 24 hours is available on platforms such as Doctolib, so that no dose is wasted.

President Emmanuel Macron announced the acceleration of the vaccination programme last week while on a visit to a new mass-vaccination centre in Paris.

His announcement came shortly after news that the vaccination programme was opened up to 16 and 17-year-olds with serious illnesses.

On Thursday the French President also said he was "absolutely in favour" of a global waiver on patent protection for Covid-19 vaccines, adding his voice to a campaign backed by US President Joe Biden.

Macron’s statement marks a shift for France, which had previously opposed such a move as likely to discourage innovation and argued patents should only be waived as a last resort.

At the same time, the government is also outlining plans for the summer in order to reach its goal of offering a vaccine to all adults who want one by the end of the summer.

France aims to have 20 million first doses injected by mid-May and 30 million by mid-June.

No more orders of AstraZeneca vaccine

But the campaign faces several pitfalls, including lingering distrust of AstraZeneca's vaccine, of which only 75% of doses received have been injected according to figures released on Sunday 2 May. 

At the weekend, the European Union's trade commissioner, Thierry Breton, announced that the EU had scrapped plans to renew their deal with AstraZeneca. "We have not renewed the order after June. We will see what will happen," Breton told France Inter radio station.

As of last Wednesday, one in four people in France had received their first dose of anti-Covid vaccine (almost 32 percent of adults), as the public health agency reported a total injection tally of 16.7 million first doses.

The government looks to further accelerate the vaccination campaign as it eases Covid-restrictions by opening up the jabs to all over-50s in mid-May, before making it accessible to all adults on June 15th. 

The situation remains "strained" in France, despite a slow decline in the number of patients admitted to intensive care units to less than 5,000 on Sunday.

The number of admissions to hospitals is falling more sharply, according to figures from Santé publique France.

(with wires)

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