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France to open Covid vaccinations for 65-74 year-olds 'by April'

France to open Covid vaccinations for 65-74 year-olds 'by April'
A woman reacts as she is vaccinated against Covid-19, by a doctor, at a Covid-19 vaccination centre for those deemed vulnerable or over 75 years old set up in a health centre of the French Primary health insurance fund - CPAM, in Bobigny on the outskirts of Paris on February 17, 2021. (Photo by Thomas SAMSON / AFP)

Covid vaccines will be made available to the "forgotten" 65-74-year-old age group "by April", France's health minister said on Thursday.

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At present over 75s are eligible for the vaccine at vaccine centres, while 50-64-year-olds who have underlying health conditions can be vaccinated by their GP, leading to accusations that the 65-74-year-olds have been forgotten in the vaccine rollout.

But France's health minister Olivier Véran, speaking at the Thursday evening press conference where 20 départements of France were put on "heightened alert" for extra restrictions, said this age group would be offered the vaccine "between now and April, whatever happens".

Previously this group had been scheduled to start getting the vaccine in March, although no firm date had been given.

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The explanation for the apparent anomaly in age groups lies with the vaccine type.

The 50-64 age group from Thursday started to access the AstraZeneca vaccine via their GP, if they have underlying health conditions.

However this vaccine is not licenced in France for the over 65s, so this age group will have to go to vaccine centres, which offer the Pfizer BioNTech or Moderna vaccines.

At present only over 75s and those with serious health conditions are eligible for appointments at vaccine centres, and many of them have reported struggling to get appointments.

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