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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

Health insurance: France to roll out smartphone version of carte vitale

France has begun a trial in eight areas of a smartphone version of the 'carte vitale' - the card required to access the French public health system - with the eventual aim of rolling out the app across the country. Here's how it will work.

Health insurance: France to roll out smartphone version of carte vitale

What is happening?

France is making changes to the carte vitale – the crucial card that allows residents of France to access the public health system. If you don’t have the card – here’s how to get it.

The new project involves replacing the physical card with a virtual one that is stored on your smartphone via an app.

The French government is beginning a pilot project in eight départements with the intention of expanding the system to cover the whole country in 2023.

The trial areas are; Bas-Rhin, Loire-Atlantique, Puy-de-Dôme, Saône-et-Loire, Sarthe, Seine-Maritime, Rhône and Alpes-Maritimes and the trials are voluntary for people who want to sign up. 

How does it work?

At present, the app is only available to those living in the trial areas mentioned above, and it can only be used by people who are already registered in the French system and have a carte vitale. It is not an alternative to the current registration process. 

If you have a carte vitale, however, you can transfer it onto your phone, which saves you having to remember to carry your card around.

You first download the app MonCV and then begin the sign-up process. In order to do this you will need your current card and social security number and will also have to go through a series of security steps including uploading a scan of your passport or ID card and then making a ‘short film’ of your face in order to verify your identity. 

Once registered, you can then use it at the doctor, pharmacist, vaccine centre or any other situation in which you previously used your carte vitale. You will be able to either show a QR code to scan, or scan your phone using NFC technology (similar to Metro and train smartphone tickets, which works even if your phone is turned off or out of battery).

Can you still use a card version?

Yes. If you don’t own a smartphone or are just not a fan of apps you can continue to use the physical card with no changes.

What does this change for healthcare access?

It doesn’t change anything in terms of your access to healthcare or paying for it, but some extra functions are set to be added to the app once the scheme is rolled out nationwide.

The first one is to link up your carte vitale with your mutuelle (complementary insurance) if you have it, so you don’t need to show extra proof from your insurance company in order to get full reimbursement.

The second is to add a ‘trusted person’ to your carte vitale, allowing them to use your card to, for example, pick up a prescription for you or to allow grandparents to take children to medical appointments (normally children are included on their parents’ card). 

Is this replacing the biometric carte vitale? 

You might remember talk earlier this year of a ‘biometric’ carte vitale, in which people would have to register biometric details such as their fingerprints in order to keep using their carte vitale.

This seems to have now been kicked into the long grass – it was a parliamentary amendment to a bill proposed by the centre-right Les Républicains party and was intended to combat prescription fraud.

Experts within the sector say that the costs and inconvenience of making everyone register their biometric details and get a new card far outweigh the costs of prescription fraud and the idea seems to have been put on the back burner for now. 

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