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HEALTH

Covid vaccine to arrive in French pharmacies by March 15th

French Prime Minister Jean Castex on Thursday said 50-74-year-olds will be able to be vaccinated for Covid-19 in pharmacies starting from March 15th, promising a swift acceleration of the vaccination campaign this spring.

Covid vaccine to arrive in French pharmacies by March 15th
Photo: Loic VENANCE / AFP

“People over 50 with underlying health issues will be able to get vaccinated at the pharmacy from the week of March 15th, once we have received our next delivery of AstraZeneca doses,” the prime minister said, speaking at the weekly press conference where he and the health minister gave the latest update on the Covid-19 health situation and extended the weekend lockdown.

A decree giving fuller details on the pharmacy rollout will be published on Friday, Castex added.

Those concerned are 50-74-year-olds with underlying health issues including diabetes, hypertension or a BMI or 30 or above. They are already eligible for the vaccine via their GP, but from March 15th pharmacies can also give the jab. They will be using the AstraZeneca vaccine.

France’s two other licensed vaccines, Pfizer BioNTech and Moderna, are reserved the first priority groups of over 75s and Ehpad nursing home residents and staff.

The French government wants to further speed up its initially sluggish vaccination campaign, and including pharmacies in the process will be paramount to achieve a mass-vaccination.

France has a vast network of pharmacies which have already been involved in the successful rollout of the seasonal flu vaccine, but until now the Covid vaccine has only been available in specialist vaccine centres, hospitals and GP surgeries.

The goal is to vaccinate 10 million people by mid April, 20 million by mid May and 30 million before the summer, the prime minister said.

Graphic: French government

France has a strict priority scheme for the Covid vaccine. At present only certain groups are eligible for vaccines. They are

  • Over 75s and people with serious medical conditions including cancer and transplant patients – these groups are vaccinated in vaccine centres
  • Healthcare workers, emergency workers and domestic and home helps working with vulnerable people – their vaccination is arranged through employers
  • People aged 50-74 with a health condition including diabetes, hypertension or a BMI of 30 or above – these vaccinations are arranged through GPs or, from March 15th, pharmacies

READ ALSO How to book an appointment for the Covid-19 vaccine

The French medical regulator the Haute Autorité de Santé on Tuesday recommended that France’s Covid-19 vaccination programme be extended to pharmacies, and agreed that pharmacists and midwives could give the injection, in addition to doctors and nurses.

HAS president Dominique Le Guludec, speaking at a press conference, said that the aim should be to “diversify the profile of vaccinators, increase the number of vaccination sites and, ultimately, to simplify the vaccination process” saying that “vaccination by pharmacists will make the vaccination process smoother and faster”.

In the same opinion, the HAS also approved the AstraZeneca vaccine for use on all under 75s, previously it had only been approved for use in France on under 65s.

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COVID-19

France scraps compulsory self-isolation after positive Covid test

France's public health body has outlined how Covid-19 rules will change on February 1st, including an end to compulsory self-isolation after a positive test result.

France scraps compulsory self-isolation after positive Covid test

Starting on February 1st, Covid rules will relax in France as the country ends compulsory isolation for those who test positive for the virus.

However, those travelling from China to France will still be required to agree to a random screening upon arrival and to isolate in the case of a positive Covid-19 test result. Travellers aged 11 and over coming from China must also provide a negative test result (less tan 48 hours) prior to boarding and those aged six and over must agree to wear a mask on board flights. These regulations – which was set to last until January 31st – is set to remain in place until February 15th.

The French public health body (The Direction générale de la santé or DGS)  announced the change on Saturday in a decree published in the “Journal Officiel” outlining the various ways the body will loosen previous coronavirus restrictions.

READ MORE: What Covid rules and recommendations remain for visiting France?

Those who were in contact with someone who tested positive – ie a contact cases – will also no longer be required to take a test, though the public health body stressed that both testing after contact and isolating after receiving a positive test remain recommended.

Previously, even asymptomatic people who had been in contact with someone who tested positive for Covid-19 were required to test on the second day after being notified that they were a “contact-case”.

These changes will take effect on February 1st.

READ MORE: What changes in France in February 2023?

The DGS also said that website SI-DEP, which records test results, will remain in operation until June 30th, however starting in February it will only collect personal data with the express permission of the patient.

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Additionally, the French government announced that sick leave procedures for people with Covid-19 will return to normal on February 1st – this means that those who test positive for Covid-19 will have the three-day wait period before daily sick benefits are required to be paid, as is usually the case. Previously, people with Covid-19 could expect daily sick benefits to begin at the start of their sick leave period (arrêt maladie in French).  

READ MORE: How sick leave pay in France compares to other countries in Europe

Covid tests are still available on walk-in basis from most pharmacies are are free to people who are fully vaccinated and registered in the French health system. Unvaccinated people, or visitors to France, have to pay up to a maximum of €22 for an antigen test of €49 for a PCR test. 

If you recently tested positive for Covid-19 in France – or you suspect you may have contracted Covid-19 – you can find some information for how to proceed here.

In explaining the changes that will begin in February, the French public health body also noted a drop in Covid-19 infections in the past month. As of January 30th, approximately 3,800 people in France had tested positive in the previous 24 hours for the coronavirus – which represents a decrease from the averages of 20,000 new cases per day about one month ago.

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