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

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

France to open Covid vaccinations for 65-74 year-olds 'by April'
The vaccine programme will be extended. Photo: THomas Samson/AFP

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.

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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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.