Macron promises ‘change of pace’ in France’s Covid vaccine programme

Macron promises 'change of pace' in France's Covid vaccine programme
Emmanuel Macron, right, and health minister Olivier Véran visit a pharmacy. Photo: Yoan Valat/AFP
France should be vaccinating "morning, noon and evening", President Emmanuel Macron said on Tuesday as he tackles criticism that the Covid-19 immunisation drive has been too slow.

“We’re going to change pace from April,” Macron said during a visit to an inoculation centre in the northern town of Valenciennes, adding there should be “no weekend and days off when it comes to vaccinations”.

He added that from Saturday, people over 70 with no underlying health conditions can book a vaccine appointment.

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France is tackling a third wave of infections but is lagging behind many Western countries in terms of the number of people vaccinated.

It has rolled out some 8.8 million doses, compared with over 30 million in Britain and nearly 11 million in Germany.

While the inoculation drive has sped up in recent weeks, it has failed to keep step with a spike in new cases, which prompted the government to place a third of the population under ‘lockdown light’ last weekend.

The government announced on Monday that the army would set up 35 mass vaccination centres.

Until now, France has been relying on community halls, leisure centres, hospitals, doctor’s surgeries and pharmacies while the US, Britain and several other countries have requisitioned stadiums.

France aims to vaccinate 10 million people by mid-April and 30 million by mid-June.

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