Castex, 55, said that as a person of his age with no underlying health conditions he had been ready to wait his turn until later in the year for a vaccination, but had changed his mind to help restore confidence in AstraZeneca’s shot.
“I have decided that it would be wise if I was vaccinated very quickly once the suspension, as I hope, is lifted and all the guarantees are given, to show my fellow citizens that the vaccine is the way out of this crisis and can be taken in all security,” he told BFM TV in a live interview.
France is vaccinating in a strict priority order which currently includes healthcare workers, over 75s and people aged 50-74 with an underlying health condition.
Politicians are expected to abide by the rules, and so far the only politician who has been publicly vaccinated is Health Minister Olivier Véran, who is a doctor and qualifies for vaccination as a health worker.
France, Germany and 12 other European countries have suspended the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine as a precaution pending a ruling Thursday by the European Medicines Agency following reports of blood clots.
“If there is the slightest doubt among my fellow citizens we have to lift it. We are awaiting the opinion of the EMA and once we have it we will follow it,” the prime minister said.
“I think the opinion will be positive and… we can restore a full confidence in this vaccine.”
Covid-19 infections are stubbornly high in France, which has not imposed any nationwide lockdown since last year, as pressure on hospitals in the Paris region forces the government to think about tightening its measures.
Castex indicated that new restrictions could be put in place for the Paris region, such as the weekend lockdowns already imposed in the Nice and Calais regions.
“We are in a worrying and critical situation and, clearly, measures of the type that have been used in other parts of the territory are on the table,” he said.
— Geraldine Amiel (@GeraldineAmiel) March 16, 2021