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‘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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STRIKES

French doctors to stage more strikes in February

General practitioners in France are planning another industrial action that will see doctors' offices closed as they call for better investment in community healthcare.

French doctors to stage more strikes in February

Primary care doctors in France announced plans to strike again in February, after walkouts in December and over the Christmas-New Year holidays in early January.

The strike will take place on Tuesday, February 14th, and it comes just a few weeks ahead of the end-of-February deadline where France’s social security apparatus, Assurance Maladie, must reach an agreement to a structure for fees for GPs for the next five years.

Hospital doctors in France are largely barred from striking, but community healthcare workers such as GPs are self-employed and therefore can walk out. 

Their walk-out comes amid mass strike actions in February over the French government’s proposed pension reform. You can find updated information on pensions strikes HERE.

Previous industrial action led to widespread closures of primary care medical offices across the country. In December, strike action saw between 50 to 70 percent of doctor’s surgeries closed.

READ MORE: Urgent care: How to access non-emergency medical care in France

New concerns among GPs

According to reporting by La Depeche, in the upcoming strike in February primary care doctors will also be walking out over a new fear – the possibility of compulsory ‘on-call’ hours.

Currently, French GPs take on-call hours on a voluntary basis. Obligatory on-call time for primary care doctors was scrapped in the early 2000s after GPs mobilised against the requirement.

However, representatives from the Hospital Federation have called for it to be reinstated in order to help relieve emergency services.

Additionally, GPs are calling for Saturday shifts to considered as part of their standard working week, in order to allow for a two-day weekend.

Striking primary care doctors are more broadly calling for actions by the government and Assurance Maladie to help make the field more appealing to younger physicians entering the profession, as the country faces more medical deserts, and for working conditions to be improved.

Those walking out hope to see administrative procedures to be simplified and for the basic consultation fee – typically capped to €25 – to be doubled to €50.

In France patients pay the doctor upfront for a visit, and then a portion of the fee is reimbursed by the government via the carte vitale health card.

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