EXPLAINED: Who is eligible for the monkeypox vaccine in France?

France has vaccinated more than 55,000 people against monkeypox - including many who have travelled from neighbouring countries. Here's who is eligible for the vaccine.

EXPLAINED: Who is eligible for the monkeypox vaccine in France?
A healthcare worker prepares to administer a vaccine (Photo: Joe Raedle / Getty Images via AFP)

There are 118 venues across France able to deliver the vaccine, including a large ‘vaccinedrome’ in the Paris regions. 

French health authorities recommend vaccination for people in high-risk groups;

  • Men who have sex with men who have multiple sexual partners
  • Transgender people with multiple sexual partners
  • Sex workers 
  • People who frequent locations where people go to find sex
  • Healthcare workers who have been in contact with monkeypox patients
  • People who have been in close contact with monkeypox patients eg family members or house-mates

As well as opening the vaccinedrome, the French government have also authorised medical students and retired doctors and nurses to administer the vaccine, as was the case during the Covid vaccination drive.

Health minister François Braun has called on patients who have lesions or other symptoms to self-isolate as soon as possible, and for people in high-risk groups to take up the offer of a vaccine.

READ ALSO French doctors reveal the ‘psychological harm’ to monkeypox patients

“The profile (of the patients) is that they are mainly men who have had sexual relations with other men, but one can also be infected by contact with a patient’s blisters,” Braun said.

“France was one of the first countries to recommend and authorise preventive vaccination,” he told Franceinfo.

France has one of the highest vaccination rates in Europe and dozens of people have travelled from Belgium, Switzerland, Italy and Spain to access vaccines – health centre staff in border areas say they are generally happy to provide access to non-residents, provided it does not impact on supplies for French residents.

First detected in humans in 1970, monkeypox is less dangerous and contagious than the eradicated smallpox virus, which it resembles, and an existing smallpox vaccine is being used against it.

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French doctors to stage more strikes in February

General practitioners in France are planning another industrial action that will see doctors' offices closed as they call for better investment in community healthcare.

French doctors to stage more strikes in February

Primary care doctors in France announced plans to strike again in February, after walkouts in December and over the Christmas-New Year holidays in early January.

The strike will take place on Tuesday, February 14th, and it comes just a few weeks ahead of the end-of-February deadline where France’s social security apparatus, Assurance Maladie, must reach an agreement to a structure for fees for GPs for the next five years.

Hospital doctors in France are largely barred from striking, but community healthcare workers such as GPs are self-employed and therefore can walk out. 

Their walk-out comes amid mass strike actions in February over the French government’s proposed pension reform. You can find updated information on pensions strikes HERE.

Previous industrial action led to widespread closures of primary care medical offices across the country. In December, strike action saw between 50 to 70 percent of doctor’s surgeries closed.

READ MORE: Urgent care: How to access non-emergency medical care in France

New concerns among GPs

According to reporting by La Depeche, in the upcoming strike in February primary care doctors will also be walking out over a new fear – the possibility of compulsory ‘on-call’ hours.

Currently, French GPs take on-call hours on a voluntary basis. Obligatory on-call time for primary care doctors was scrapped in the early 2000s after GPs mobilised against the requirement.

However, representatives from the Hospital Federation have called for it to be reinstated in order to help relieve emergency services.

Additionally, GPs are calling for Saturday shifts to considered as part of their standard working week, in order to allow for a two-day weekend.

Striking primary care doctors are more broadly calling for actions by the government and Assurance Maladie to help make the field more appealing to younger physicians entering the profession, as the country faces more medical deserts, and for working conditions to be improved.

Those walking out hope to see administrative procedures to be simplified and for the basic consultation fee – typically capped to €25 – to be doubled to €50.

In France patients pay the doctor upfront for a visit, and then a portion of the fee is reimbursed by the government via the carte vitale health card.