France opens next stage of Covid vaccine programme for over 50s

France opens next stage of Covid vaccine programme for over 50s
Photo: AFP
France from Thursday has opened up the next stage in its vaccine plan - here's who qualifies.

From Thursday France begins the rollout of vaccine delivery in the community via doctors and workplaces, as the French Health ministry announced in a directive to médecins généralistes (family doctors or GPs).

Here’s who qualifies and when.

When?

From Thursday, February 25th deliveries of the AstraZeneca vaccine will begin for GPs who want to sign up to administer it. Workplace doctors (médecins du travail) can also sign up to administer the vaccine.

Where?

Previously, the vaccine was only being given in hospitals and vaccine centres, or in nursing homes for residents, but the government wants to gradually increase the rollout so that GPs and pharmacies will also be able to administer it.

The deliveries to GPs from February 25th represents the first stage in the community rollout and it is intended that it will then be expanded to nurses, midwives and pharmacies.

Workplace doctors are also included, so people who fall into eligible groups can also be vaccinated in their workplace or at workplace medical centres. 

Who?

The vaccine going to family and workplace doctors is intended for a very specific group – those aged between 50 and 64 and with an underlying health condition such as diabetes or respiratory illnesses. 

How many doses?

In total 700,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine are reserved for injection by GPs. However initially each GP will only get one vial of 10 doses, in order to avoid wastage. The order will then be gradually increased over the following weeks. 

The extra stocks will be sent to pharmacies and doctors have to sign up to receive weekly deliveries. Not all GPs have chosen to sign up to this, and with only 10 doses per week per doctor to start with, competition for the appointment slots is likely to be fierce.

It is up to individual doctors to decide how to prioritise their patients.

Who else can be vaccinated?

France is doing its vaccine rollout in stages, with the most vulnerable going first.

Some people are already eligible – over 75s, people under 75 with serious health conditions (eg cancer or transplant patients) health workers and residents and staff at Ehpad nursing homes.

Only people aged under 75 and with a health condition need a prescription to be vaccinated, everyone else can make an appointment directly with a vaccine centre – although in some areas there are severe shortages of available appointments.

READ ALSO Unanswered phones and long waits – the frustrations of getting a Covid vaccine in France

Doesn’t this miss out the 65-74 age group?

Yes, people aged 65-74 who don’t have a serious health condition don’t yet qualify for injections in vaccine centres – but are also not eligible to get the injection from a GP, and plenty of people are pretty cross about that.

The government says the reason for this is the type of vaccines – the GPs will be using the AstraZeneca vaccine, as this does not need super-cold storage so is more practical to be administered in the community, but in France it is only licensed for use on the under 65s.

The vaccine centres, on the other hand, use Pfizer BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, which can be used on any age group. The next age group to become available for treatment in vaccine centres will be the 65-74s, but as yet no date has been released.

The latest figures show that 2,656,447 people in France have received a Covid injection, of which 1, 319, 292 have received both doses and are therefore fully vaccinated.


Member comments

  1. So the Government are just hoping all of us in the 65-74 group will just die off? Well it will be cheaper but Macron will miss out on a few votes next year.

  2. My husband is 71 and has a medical condition that makes him eligible for the vaccine but he can’t get an appointment. I’m just so tired of reading that there will be appointments available “prochainement” on Doctolib. Surely someone could tell us if “prochainement” means tommorrow, next week or next month, so that we can at least not have to check 10 times a day for fear of missing out when appointments do finally open up.

  3. I totally agree with you Mary F. It is so frustrating, along with the message to try another centre. You can waste a lot of time to get “prochainement “ again and again. Has no one heard of waiting lists, where you could register and then know that when vaccines became available you could be contacted

  4. I am 86 with type1 diabetes in the centre Var but in spite of trying internet and calling every day have not got a rdv.

  5. I’m 70 and have no intention of taking the AstraZeneca vaccine when even Macron questions it’s efficacy for those over 65. No thanks.

  6. Deeply underwhelmed..aged 74! My husband has had his second so ? but I feel anxious /sad and for the first time a bit disillusioned with the way the French have handled this pandemic and our health in this age group now…

  7. It’s shameful! Period! Esp;ecially for the first group not being able to even get a rdv! Im American, over 65 with no underlying condition. Yet, I teach at University in classroom! My sisters in the US who are 63, 71 and 73 have all been vaccinated. I learned France passed on the high prices for the vaccines early-on but the US and Israel purchased them. So much for world’s best healthcare! Inefficient systems, delivery and incompetence. So very French…

  8. Looking at the way the Brits handled things compared to the French, and even given the slow vaccine process here in France, I am still very glad to be here rather than in the UK. Lets not forget that a high percentage of those infected in the UK actually caught it in a hospital! Lets also not forget that in the UK waiting lists for other things are now in some places OVER ONE YEAR! My husband is 72, with underlying health conditions, took a long time, but just keep refreshing the page – after about 15 minutes I got him an appointment for both 1st and second injections – more than what you get in UK! In the UK the wait between first and second is so very long that some people have caught it and died after their first jab. Its 26 to 28 days between the two here here. I am 66 with also two underlying conditons. Again after refreshing the page over and over…it took another 15 minutes to get my two appointments. NONE of my specialist appointments at the hospital have been delayed, and neither have my husbands. Waiting list…..what waiting list? I have been a health exile here from the UK since the 80’s when had we stayed there (in the UK) I would probably have died long ago. Yes, sometimes they get it wrong, but when you stand back and look at the big picture the French get it right way more times than the UK does.

  9. Very discouraged. France did so well at the beginning of the pandemic, but not to have vaccines, especially in areas like Nice with so much transmission and new cases, it’s difficult to accept it as anything other than a big bungle. Okay, I know, EU was slow to place orders for the vaccine, but why is France about the least vaccinated country in the EU?

  10. Hoping (praying !) to get to our maison secondaire in Gard in late summer or autumn. Vaccine roll-out is the one thing Boris got right. Methinks there’s been a lack of urgency in EU, from approval to roll-out, not to mention the procurement mess and protocol16 fiasco. I’d gladly take one of Boris’s spare Astra Zeneca jabs! Freight traffic running smoothly Rosslare to/from Northern France grâce à French recognition and insistence on antigen test. Malheureusement, for ordinary travel, we’re still talking here about €2000 compulsory quarantine after several horses have bolted!

  11. Sorry to even speak up here, given certain melodramatic comments: not into country-up-manship but UK vacc roll-out is thanks to the NHS, scientific advisers & hosts of volunteers, not the so-called PM. I’ll forgive you Frank as you’re in Dublin’s fair city (my alma mater) & don’t have to look too often at UK politicos if you prefer not to.
    As for assertions about which system & choice is best, (or which PM is right at this stage) isn’t it a little premature to be waving flags? Too reminiscent of the huge Brexit divisions.

  12. Wow – it is VERY slow isn’t it? 10 doses per GP per week!! I was getting excited thinking now that GPs and pharmacies were going to get the vaccines from today that things were going to really speed up. I guess not! 😬😕

  13. We are told that the situation in the UK is actually inspiring — with so many volunteering to help the process that there are waiting list. A rclose relative was moved to tears by the enthusiasm and the smooth process when she , at 66, had her first vaccine. I ask myself what that says about the French way of doing such things.

  14. For god sake people stop moaning. If this pandemic has revealed one thing it’s how much people bitch and moan. You aren’t in a position to know what the intricacies of the problems are. Why don’t you just enjoy what freedoms you DO have all be it wearing a mask. Spring is coming, enjoy it. Take pleasure in the small things, it’s better for your mental health…Most people have got problems of one sort or another-what makes YOU so special?

  15. Comparisons between France and the UK on vaccine rollout are not relevant since the UK is dependent of the EU Commission decision process. However comparisons with other EU countries are relevantly, percentage wise, on first vaccinations, France is lagging badly, the organisation of the systematic rollout is broken as it appears to be highly dependent on where you live, the strategy of double doses within 4 weeks while commendable when evidence was still thin on the ground on extending this period to 10-12 weeks, should be changed, immunologists have the evidence from Israel, the UK, Singapore etc. The more people covered by one jab the better as the virus strain will only mutate and be become more contagious, so more people vaccinated at least once, the fewer people to act as a pool of infection. Current policy will see more lockdowns and more civil disruptions as the weather gets better and people become frustrated at endless cycle of lockdowns.

  16. I for one, being 70, am very disappointed in the roll-out of the vaccine and the speed of the roll out. I’m disappointed in Veran as the health minister, and Castex as the prime minster. Veran looks like a deer in headlights most of the time. He’s too young to deal with a Pandemic ..he’d probably be fine in normal times, but we’re not going to see ‘normal times’ for a very long time.

    The US seemed to be able to greatly improve vaccine roll outs, the UK .. but France always has to over complicate things and end up with nothing to show for it. Very frustrated, very tired of France only having ‘confinement’ as an answer.

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