In an interview with Le Parisien, Thomas Fantôme, the head of France’s Assurance maladie health system, revealed the plan to begin calling people who have not yet been vaccinated in the over-75 age group.
This group has been eligible for the vaccine since February, but many people have reported great difficulty in getting an appointment slot in their local area, with readers of The Local reporting unanswered phones and online booking systems that show all local centres as full.
Fantôme said that from next week a new phone number would be set up dedicated to the over 75s to help them find an appointment slot.
At the same time, Assurance maladie agents will begin calling people who have not yet been vaccinated to invite them to an appointment.
He said: “Our aim is to not leave them by the wayside.
“In addition to their individual efforts, their vaccination will be based on two pillars: on the one hand, the setting up of a dedicated telephone number, which they will be able to call from next week to obtain an appointment. And on the other hand, by cross-referencing the data available to Assurance maladie, we will identify those who have not yet been vaccinated, and call them to suggest that they do so, as the President suggested.”
Calls have already begun to some over-75s in areas with high numbers of cases such as Seine-Saint-Denis and Val d’Oise.
Fantôme said: “Their reception is very positive and they are often surprised.
“They sometimes tell us that they had intended to be vaccinated, but later, or that they gave up because of a lack of available slots. Our call often triggers a response, and we get very few refusals.”
He added that the purpose of the calls would not be persuade people who did not want to be vaccinated, but only to help people who did want an appointment to find one.