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HEALTH

‘Vaccidrive’ – France opens first drive-in vaccination centre to boost Covid jabs

France's first vaccine drive-in opened on Tuesday, the latest step to speed up the Covid vaccine rollout in the hope of beginning to reopen the country in mid-May.

'Vaccidrive' - France opens first drive-in vaccination centre to boost Covid jabs
Photo: LOIC VENANCE / AFP

The first ‘vaccidrive’ opened on Tuesday morning in Saint-Jean-de-Védas, close to Montpellier in the south of France.

Inspired by a successful drive-in vaccination scheme in the United States, the centre allows for vaccinating people as they remain seated in their own car.

“It’s like you stay at home a little bit,” Laurent Ramon, director of the health group Cap Santé, which initiated the project, told French TV channel BFM.

Cap Santé got the idea as the US reached the goal of 100 million injections back in March, Ramon said.

“We should perhaps not copy everything the Americans do,” he added, “but sometimes, when there’s a good idea, we should get inspired.”

If successful, the drive-in will be copied by other cities to further boost France’s vaccination scheme.

The French government has ramped up the pace of its Covid vaccination scheme in recent weeks, setting up mass-vaccination centres across France, boosting the number of weekend appointments and welcoming schemes that allow people to sign up for alerts on ‘spare’ vaccines to to avoid wasting leftover doses. On Monday, vaccination opened up to all over 55s in France

EXPLAINED: How to sign up for spare Covid vaccine doses in France

As a result, France’s vaccination scheme has picked up the pace in recent weeks, reaching the set goal of 10 million first doses on April 8th – one week earlier than planned.

In total 16.4 percent of the population had received at least one dose by April 11th, according to the tracking site VaccinTracker, while 5.56 percent were fully vaccinated with both doses.

READ ALSO How to book an appointment for the Covid vaccine 

As Covid-19 continues to put pressure hospitals with still-rising patient numbers, the government hopes to speed up the vaccination process further with the arrival of the one-shot Johnson & Johnson this week, supplementing the AstraZeneca, Pfizer BioNTechanda and Moderna.

The next goal is 20 million doses by mid-May, when President Emmanuel Macron also hopes to begin reopening the country’s closed sectors, including bars and terraces.

The drive-in is a new “weapon in the vaccination campaign,” Lamine Gharbi, president of Cap Santé, told France Bleu.

Placed outside a regular vaccination centre, the same rules apply for those getting injected in their own car as within the health centre.

“The reservation is always done via the platform Doctolib,” Gharbi said, referring to the medical app where priority groups may book their vaccine appointment.

READ ALSO How to book an appointment for the Covid vaccine 

At the site there will be a doctor and a nurse present, and the person getting injected will have to stay for 15 minutes of observation before leaving the drive-in.

The centre in Montpellier hopes that the drive-in will double their number of daily injections.

Member comments

  1. What a brilliant idea! How many Mc Donalds are there in France? They’re all closed at the moment, so it makes total sense to use those. There is everything they need, refrigirators, taps, soap, parking spaces etc. And while you wait the 15 minutes free icecreams are served!

  2. Take these experimental injectables at your own risk. You have no recourse should you become sick or die.

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HEALTH

First suspected case of monkeypox reported in France

France reported its first suspected case of monkeypox on Thursday, after cases of the virus were reported in several neighbouring countries.

First suspected case of monkeypox reported in France

A first suspected case of monkeypox in France was reported in the Paris area on Thursday, the country’s direction générale de la santé has said, two weeks after a first case of the virus in Europe was discovered in the UK.

Since that first case was reported on May 6th, more than 30 other cases have been confirmed in Spain, Portugal, the UK, Sweden, Canada and the USA.

Here we explain what is known about the viral disease.

Why is it called monkeypox?

The virus was first identified in 1958 in laboratory monkeys – which is where the name comes from – but rodents are now considered the probable main animal host.

It is mainly observed in isolated areas of central and western Africa, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said, with the first case in humans reported in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Why is it in the news?

Monkeypox does not usually spread beyond Western and Central Africa. It is the first time, for example, it has been identified in Spain or Portugal.

It is believed the relaxing of Covid-19 travel rules have allowed the virus to spread further than usual.

The first case in the UK was reported on May 6th, in a patient who had recently travelled to Nigeria. But in the eight cases reported since, several had no connection to each other, and none had recently travelled, prompting experts to believe a number of cases have gone unreported.

Scientists are now working to find out if those cases are linked. 

What are the symptoms?

Initially, the infected patient experiences fever, headache, muscle pain, inflammation of the lymph node, backache and severe fatigue. Then pimples appear, first on the face, then in the palms of the hands and on the soles of the feet. The mucous membranes of the mouth, genitals and cornea may also be affected. 

It has been described by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as similar but less serious than smallpox. In most cases, symptoms disappear in two to three weeks and the patient makes a full recovery.

There are two known strains of the virus: the more severe Congo strain and the West African strain. UK cases reported to date have been the West African strain.

How is it transmitted?

Monkeypox is most often transmitted to humans by infected rodents or primates through direct contact with blood, body fluids, or skin or mucous membrane lesions of these animals. 

Human-to-human transmission occurs primarily through respiratory droplet particles during prolonged contact. But contamination can come from close contact with skin lesions of an infected individual or from objects, such as bedding, recently contaminated with biological fluids or materials from a patient’s lesions.

More severe cases are related to the length of time patients are exposed to the virus, their state of health, and whether the virus leads to other health complications. 

Young children are more sensitive to this virus.

Can it be treated?

There is no specific treatment or preventive vaccine against monkeypox – and the huge majority of patients recover fully with appropriate care.

Smallpox vaccination was effective in the past at also providing protection from monkeypox, but with that disease considered eradicated, people are no longer vaccinated against it, which has allowed monkeypox to spread once again. 

Should we be worried?

Experts have said that we’re not going to see the virus reach epidemic levels.

“There is no evidence that human-to-human transmission alone can maintain monkeypox in the human population,” the WHO has said.

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