LATEST: How France’s Covid-19 vaccine programme unrolls

Who gets it, when, how much will it cost and will it be compulsory? Here's the latest on France' plan for the Covid-19 vaccination programme.

LATEST: How France's Covid-19 vaccine programme unrolls
Photo: AFP


The vaccination programme started on December 27th and is now being rolled out in phases with the most vulnerable people first.

Phase 1 runs through January with phase 2 beginning at the end of January and running through February and March.

Phase 3, which encompasses most of the general population who don’t fall into high risk groups, is scheduled for late spring.

The programme began in Ehpad nursing homes. Photo: AFP


French health authorities have devised a plan based on vulnerability to the virus, with those most likely to develop the most serious form of the illness being vaccinated first. 

Currently eligible for vaccines are;

  • Residents in the country’s Ehpad nursing homes, as well as Ehpad staff (around 1 million people)
  • Healthworkers, emergency workers and domestic and home helps working with vulnerable groups , 
  • Over 75s
  • People of any age with serious underlying health conditions such as cancer or kidney failure ill be vaccinated – full list of eligible conditions HERE

The above groups are vaccinated in vaccine centres or – in the case of healthcare workers or Ehpad residents – in hospitals and Ehpads.

READ ALSO How to book an appointment for the Covid vaccine 

From March 2nd anyone aged between 50 and 74 with an underlying health condition including diabetes, hypertension or a BMI of 30 or above can access the vaccine via their GP – find the full list of eligible conditions HERE

From late spring the programme will be opened up to the rest of the population (around 52 million people).

There are no firm dates for this, but it will be done in order with people aged 50 plus and key workers including teachers and retail staff first, before moving to people in precarious living situations such as the homeless, people who live in a communal settings and then the rest of the population.

The vaccine is not limited to French citizens but you do need to be resident in France. People who have not yet fully registered in the French healthcare system and received their carte vitale can still be vaccinated.


Appointments can be made online, via the medical app Doctolib or by phone on 0800 009 110.

For full details on how to make an appointment, click HERE.

At present the vaccine is being administered through hospitals, vaccine centres and GPs, but there are plans to roll it out to France’s vast network of pharmacies.

How much?

The vaccine will be free to everyone, even those who don’t have a carte vitale

“Seeing as this is a public health issue, unregistered people as well as those in a very precarious situation can get vaccinated for free,” the health ministry told The Local, referring to a government decree published on December 31st.

Which vaccine?

France has currently licensed three vaccines for use; Pfizer BioNTech and Moderna which are licensed for all groups and AstraZeneca which is licensed for under 75s. The Johnson and Johnson vaccine is expected to be licensed by the European Medicines Agency in March, closely followed by the French medical regulator.

Will it be compulsory?

No, “no-one will be obliged to be vaccinated” the health minister said.

This has been a tricky issue in France, which has historically high levels of vaccine scepticism. A recent poll showed that only 40 percent of people plan to be vaccinated, although new polls point to a significant increase over the past couple of weeks.

France is currently running a consultation into the idea of a ‘vaccine passport’ for travel although even is approved this would be unlikely to be brought in before the summer.

Member comments

  1. What phase does the vulnerable come under, ie:- Diabetics, heart conditions, liver and pancreatic conditions and any other underlying condition??????????

  2. What phase does the vulnerable come under, ie:- Diabetics, heart conditions, liver and pancreatic conditions and any other underlying condition??????????

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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.