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HEALTH

France won’t delay second Covid vaccine dose, health minister says

France will not prolong the gap between the first and second vaccine injections, the health minister said Thursday, prioritising "security" over speed.

France won't delay second Covid vaccine dose, health minister says
Those having received the first injection of the Covid-19 vaccine will not have to wait more than four weeks for the second, the French health minister has decided. Photo: AFP

“We will maintain the injection gap for the two doses of the Pfizer vaccine at three to four weeks,” said Health Minister Olivier Véran during a press conference on Tuesday.

 

Whether to elongate the timetable between the two doses became a pressing question in European countries after Pfizer-BioNTech warned of delays in their vaccine supplies.

The French government had considered following in the footsteps of countries like the UK and Denmark and increasing the period between the two doses to six weeks (or 12 in the UK) in order to be able to give more people their first injection with current stocks.

OPINION: Is France's Covid-19 vaccine programme a disaster? Not any more

 

France's health authority Haute Autorité de Santé said earlier this week that spacing out the two injections by six weeks was “an option to consider” as it would permit “an acceleration of administering the first dose to the most vulnerable groups” in the country.

But the health minister said the risks were too big.

“We are. . . facing a period of the unknown and uncertainty, and I have therefore made the decision based on the security of the validated data,” he said.

France has drastically sped up its Covid-19 vaccination scheme since it kicked off with sluggish pace late December, and the country has already exceeded its January goal of 1 million vaccinated persons.

Currently the vaccine programme is open to over 75s, people with serious underlying health conditions, healthcare workers over 50 (or who have health conditions) and residents and staff of nursing homes with the next group – people aged 65-74 – due to open up in February.

READ ALSO How to book a Covid-19 vaccine appointment in France 

If all goes to plan, the whole country will be vaccinated by August, the health minister previously said.

 

Member comments

  1. Just had my first jab. My best advice: Bring a book.
    Kind of chaotic at the hospital but everyone was friendly and helpful and in the end we all got our vaccination.

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ENVIRONMENT

High pollen counts predicted in France due to heatwave

Pollen from highly allergenic ragweed plant is expected to peak earlier this year, as a result of high temperatures.

High pollen counts predicted in France due to heatwave

Ragweed pollen (ambroisie) is expected to spread earlier this year across many parts of France, particularly in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region.

The National Aerobiological Surveillance Network (NASN) announced on Tuesday that the Lyon region has reached a critical threshold of ragweed pollen in the air to begin causing allergic reactions in sensitive people. The peak for the concentration of pollen in the air is expected for the end of August, which would be in approximately 20 days.

While the risk of allergic reaction is highest in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes currently, particularly in areas like northern Isère, Drôme, Ardèche and southern Rhône, the plant has spread across different regions in France. Up to 15 percent of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes could experience some level of allergic reaction from the plant, as it is highly allergenic, according to Anses.

It can also be found in Burgundy, Franche-Comté, New Aquitaine, Occitanie, as well as the north of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region.

However, in contrast, ragweed is typically neither found in the Northern and Western parts of the country, nor along the Mediterranean coast.

The high pollen counts are expected approximately one week early this year due to the high temperatures seasonal temperatures.

Ragweed pollen can cause runny noses, stinging eyes and even breathing difficulties in people with an allergy, said Samuel Monnier, engineer at the NASN, to BFMTV.

If you have a ragweed allergy, consider consulting a doctor or allergist to pre-empt or treat the symptoms, recommends Monnier. Residents in regions where the pollen count is high might also consider drying clothes inside rather than outside, in order to keep the pollen from sticking to clothing. 

The plant is considered particularly invasive, and many local authorities have put into place systems to remove it when spotted.  In order to report the presence of ragweed, you can go to the website signalement-ambroisie.fr or download the smartphone application “Signalement-Ambroisie.”

If you’re sensitive to pollen, you can keep up with the interactive pollen count maps across France by going to the website www.pollens.fr/

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