France breaks daily vaccination record as Covid rules are tightened in schools

Covid vaccine
SEBASTIEN BOZON / AFP
France has broken its daily record for vaccinations, the health minister has announced as rules are tightened in schools amid a surge of cases among pupils.

On Friday Health Minister Olivier Véran announced that a record total of 400,000 vaccinations had been administered between Thursday and Friday evenings. Add this to the total of the last few days and it means that one million jabs have been given in France, in just three days.

Meanwhile, the number of new coronavirus cases in children under 15 has accelerated sharply over the past week, the Sante Publique France health authority said on Friday forcing the government to tighten Covid measures in schools.

Schools across the country remain open, though individual classes in départements under partial lockdown will now close if just one student tests positive, instead of three previously.

“That will necessarily mean more class closures in the coming days,” Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer said Friday, calling outright school closures to slow the virus a “last resort.”

Blanquer also said school canteens, which have been partly blamed for the spread of the virus in schools, could also close but on a case by case basis.

All pupils over 6 years old must wear masks in schools in France apart from in the canteen and when playing outside.

The French health authority also said on Friday that dentists and vets in France should be allowed to join the fight against Covid-19 and administer vaccination jabs.

This is partly due to the fact that France’s supply of doses will increase significantly from next month.

The Haute Autorité de Santé (HAS) said in a statement that the health ministry had asked it to find new ways of bringing other types of health workers into the vaccination campaign, so as not to cause further delays, reported Reuters.

“The growing supply of doses will allow vaccination at a larger scale from April and will require the mobilisation of a greater number of competent professionals to quickly vaccinate the relevant people,” the HAS said.

As well as dentists and vets, HAS suggested that pharmacists, medical students, lab technicians, and other healthcare professionals also be authorised to give the Covid-19 vaccines.

This would mean an extra 250,000 medical staff could be added to French vaccination campaign, greatly increasing the number of people who will be vaccinated and the speed at which it will be done.

So far, France has administered around 7 million doses of the vaccine, according to the latest government data. This means that around 10.70 percent of the French population has received at least one dose of the vaccine.

This is in stark contrast to the UK, where over 30 million doses have been given and around half of the population has received at least their first jab.

However, the two countries were on a similar level for second doses, the rate in France being 3.90 percent and the UK’s around 4.80 percent. This is partly because France is waiting 3-4 weeks between the first and second doses, while in the UK, they are waiting 12 weeks between vaccines.

France’s main challenges have been the supply of vaccines and the availability of medical staff. This has led to great difficulty in securing appointments at vaccine centres.

The French government aims to vaccinate 10 million people by mid-April, 20 million by mid-May and 30 million by the summer.

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