France opens Covid-19 vaccination to all adults, regardless of health status
From Monday, any French adult can be vaccinated against Covid-19, regardless of age group and without needing to prove a pre-existing medical condition. If you are 18 or over, and prepared to be patient, you can be inoculated.
Those aged between 18 and 49 were originally designated as the final group in the French vaccination queue, which started inching forward last December.
At the end of April, President Emmanuel Macron said all adults would be eligible regardless of medical conditions as of the 15 June. That date has now been moved forward to 31 May.
When making the announcement earlier this week, Health Minister Olivier Véran promised that new slots would be made available on-line everyday.
The response so far has been impressive, leading the health authorities to warn of the need for patience, both in registering and, from Monday, in obtaining a first injection.
The site Doctolib, which has been processing the majority of French vaccination reservations, warns that there's going to be a huge demand and that it will not be able to accommodate all patients, mainly because of limited stocks of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.
France's coronavirus vaccination rollout has gained pace in recent weeks, with some 23 million people -- a third of the population -- receiving at least one dose so far.
But there are currently 28 million French adults eligible for vaccination who have not had a single shot. And an average of 500,000 doses are being administered every day.
Experts express guarded optimism
However, medical experts continue to warn that a daily infection rate of 10,000 cases is still too high if France wishes to guarantee that there will not be a fourth wave of the disease.
There are reasons for optimism.
According to Professor Arnaud Fontanet, an epidemiologist at the Paris Pasteur Institute and a member of the scientific council advising the government, "if the decline in infections continues until 9 June, the next phase in the gradual easing of restrictions, then we can look forward to a summer without fear. The next two weeks are crucial."
All experts agree that the wearing of masks, especially in crowded situations, and the continued respect of social distancing rules remain vital.
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