“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
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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.