France begins mass vaccination of healthcare workers as AstraZeneca doses arrive

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France begins mass vaccination of healthcare workers as AstraZeneca doses arrive
A member of staff vaccinates a colleague at a hospital in the Paris region. Photo: AFP

France has begun the mass vaccination of healthcare workers - including Health Minister Olivier Véran - as the first deliveries of the AstraZeneca vaccine arrived.


Health Minister Véran sought to boost confidence in the AstraZeneca vaccine on Monday as he received a dose in front of TV cameras and reporters at a hospital southwest of Paris.


France received 270,000 doses of the jab on Saturday and would take delivery of another 300,000 in the next few days, he added.

France's health authority has not approved the AstraZeneca vaccine for use on the over 65s after concerns at the lack of data on its efficiency in this group, so the government has decided that the vaccine will be used as a priority for all healthcare workers, including hospital and nursing home staff as well as domestic workers.

Vaccination of other priority groups including the over 75s and those with serious health conditions continues using the Pfizer BioNTech and Moderna vaccines.

South Africa has delayed the start of its inoculation programme using the injection from AstraZeneca over concerns it does not work on a new variant of Covid-19 that originated in the country.

But Véran said that the South African variant had not been widely detected in France.

MAP How the new variants of Covid are spreading across France



"I continue to recommend vaccination by the AstraZeneca vaccine, which protects against 99 percent of the viruses that are present in our country," Veran said from a hospital in the town of Melun.

"I encourage all careworkers to get themselves vaccinated in their hospitals, health centres and all available places in order to protect themselves as fast as possible."

The jab distributed by AstraZeneca and developed by the University of Oxford is set to be discussed by WHO experts on Monday amid doubts about its efficacy against the South African variant and against disease in the over-65s.



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