France begins mass vaccination of healthcare workers as AstraZeneca doses arrive

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

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

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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France’s monkeypox count rises to 277 as first woman contracts virus

France has detected 277 cases of monkeypox, health authorities said Tuesday, June 21st, including the first case in the country of a woman contracting the virus.

France's monkeypox count rises to 277 as first woman contracts virus

The case numbers have risen steeply since the last official figure of 183 cases five days earlier. But there have been no deaths in France attributed to monkeypox.

The normal initial symptoms of monkeypox include a high fever, swollen lymph nodes and a blistery chickenpox-like rash.

Until recently, the viral disease had generally been confined to Western and Central Africa but is now present in several continents, particularly Europe.

Among the latest cases recorded in France, “a first female case has been confirmed, the mode of transmission of which is currently being investigated, and all the others are men,” the French national public health agency said in a statement.

So far, the recent outbreak of monkeypox, which is currently affecting some 40 countries, has mainly affected men who have engaged in gay sex.

The World Health Organization is due to hold an emergency meeting on Thursday to determine whether to classify the global monkeypox outbreak as a public health emergency of international concern.

The virus usually clears up after two or three weeks.

Most of the cases identified in France have been found in Paris and its suburbs, though smaller outbreaks have been seen in several regions throughout the country, including Normandy in the north and the Cote d’Azur in the south.

The first monkeypox case in France was discovered on May 20, the same day the virus was detected in neighbouring Germany.