France - vaccines

France set to reach mid-May target of 20 million Covid vaccinations

A Covid-19 vaccination centre in Reze near Nantes. From last Wednesday, all adults are eligible for a jab, if they can book an appointment within 24 hours.
A Covid-19 vaccination centre in Reze near Nantes. From last Wednesday, all adults are eligible for a jab, if they can book an appointment within 24 hours. © Stephane Mahe/Reuters

France's target of administering a first Covid-19 jab to a third of the population by mid-May appears within reach, despite pessimism over the slow start of the vaccination programme.

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The main vaccine booking website – DoctoLib – said that some 693,000 people had booked their vaccinations for Friday and Saturday alone, bringing the total of first doses close to the 20 million target.

More appointments were expected to be made before the end of the weekend, meaning the target is well in reach, according to Doctolib.

Last Sunday, Prime Minister Jean Castex remained pessimistic when he told France 2 TV that reaching the 20 million mark on 15 May wasn't likely. He blamed problems with the AstraZeneca campaign, which has seen delays due to delivery problems and age restrictions over concerns of rare blood clots.

Many vaccination centres are to remain open over the weekend, as France moves on to its next target: 30 million first jabs by 15 June.

This week, vaccination centres have administered over 3 million anti-Covid jabs – 300,000 more than the week before.

French President Emmanuel Macron encouraged people to "vaccinate morning, noon and night, on weekends and holidays". On the 13 May Ascension Day holiday, some 429,000 people received injections – compared to the much 240,000 doses reported by the Directorate General of Health on the Labour Day holiday.

Read: Covid-tracking geeks convince French people to trust the numbers

This week, French health authorities enacted a major vaccine policy change, removing age restrictions for all adults for next-day appointments.

The move, designed to use doses of people who don't show up for their appointment, has led to a surge of people using apps like Vitemadose to find a last-minute jabs.

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