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VACCINES

EXPLAINED: How under 50s in France can book a Covid vaccine appointment

People aged under 50 in France are now eligible to get a Covid-19 vaccine if there are last minute appointment slots available. Here's what we know about how the system works.

EXPLAINED: How under 50s in France can book a Covid vaccine appointment
A healthcare student gets her vaccination dose. Photo: Fred TANNEAU / AFP

When?

This opened on Tuesday, May 11th, one day early.

What’s new?

France on Tuesday May 11th opened up its Covid-19 vaccination programme to allow all over 18s to book an appointment for an injection if there were any spare doses or appointment slots that had not been taken.

President Emmanuel Macron announced the move last Thursday but it came into place one day ahead of schedule.

What about normal appointments?

People who are already eligible can book in the normal way for an appointment days or even weeks in advance.

Those eligible currently are:

  • All over 50s
  • All healthcare and emergency workers
  • Anyone aged between 18 and 50 who has a health condition including severe asthma, diabetes or a BMI of 30 or above. Find the full list HERE.

Why the new move?

The idea is to avoid wasted doses and fill up vacant slots to increase the overall rate of vaccinations. While many people in eligible groups have reported struggling to find an appointment in their local area – and this website can help if you are having difficulty – there were also unfilled appointments in some areas, especially at the larger vaccine centres.

The government has so far resisted the call to open up vaccines to everyone, insisting that it is best to vaccinate the most vulnerable groups first, as this will have the greatest impact on death and hospitalisation rates.

But it has hit on this compromise measure to avoid any doses going to waste.

How?

From Tuesday if you can find any appointment going spare on Wednesday you can book it, even if you are not in an eligible group. 

Members of the public can now use the site Doctolib to reserve appointments. Simply tick the Public non-prioritaire box “For over 18s for appointments available between now and tomorrow evening.”

Doctolib says that all bookings can be made via its website or mobile phone app and there is no need to go on line at a certain time.

They also need to enter their town or postcode which will bring up any spare appointment slots near their home.

You then need to book an appointment for that day or the following day. There is no option to just turn up at your local vaccine centre.

Extra help

In what is likely to be a scramble for available slots, a helping hand is on the way. 

The website Vitemadose, set up by data scientist Guillaume Rozier also has a new function Chronodoses, which allows you to search for last minute appointments.

This 25-year-old data scientist is becoming something of a hero in France, first for his easy-to-understand breakdowns of the latest Covid data and then for the website Vite Ma Dose, which has helped numerous people to find an appointment near them. He’s also credited as being an influence on the government’s decision to open up vaccines to more groups, in order to avoid wasted doses.

READ ALSO: Who is the 24-year-old behind France’s most viewed Covid graphs?

Rozier announced the creation of a new site – ChronoDose – which will help people find last-minute appointments in an interview on RMC.

The new function became available from Tuesday on the Vite Ma Dose site – vitemadose.covidtracker.fr

It works in a similar way to Vite Ma Dose, which scans all the various different platforms offering appointments and then presents a list of the nearest based on the user’s postcode. The user is then sent to the relevant site to book the available appointment.

Over-18s select “Chronodoses uniquement” to see the upcoming free appointments for the next 24 hours and book one closest to them. 

Member comments

  1. If I get the first dose in this manner by using the last minute appointment, what is the process for the second dose? Will it follow the process as others or should i wait for a last minute appointment for it as well?

  2. You get the date for the second appointment when you book the first. If you are over 55 I get the impression you can choose by where you get vaccinated. It says which vaccines they give at a certain place. Under 55 not allowed Astrazeneca and J&J in France.

  3. We had our first vaccination in March of Astrazenika at our doctors surgery. Our second was due to be Saturday 8th May, which was cancelled and changed to 29th May. I am concerned that this will also be changed, in which case do we get a Pfizer for the second or what?

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HEALTH

French government calls on over-60s to get second Covid booster as cases rise

As Covid cases show a significant rise in France in recent weeks, the government is calling on all eligible groups to get a second Covid vaccine booster shot.

French government calls on over-60s to get second Covid booster as cases rise

After a 40 percent rise in Covid-19 cases in the last week, the French Health ministry is calling all eligible people – including over 60s and those health conditions – to receive their second booster (fourth dose) of the vaccine.

“It is necessary to redouble our efforts to protect vulnerable people, this is done through vaccination and this campaign of second boosters is absolutely necessary,” said the ministry of health.

The Covid incidence rate is increasing in more than 50 départements across France. Currently, there are an average of 50,000 positive tests per day, which has also been accompanied by an increase in hospitalisations. 

“This is very clearly a reprisal of the epidemic linked to the arrival of new variants of the Omicron family, which are called BA4 BA5,” said infectious disease specialist Anne-Claude Crémieux to Franceinfo. Crémieux added that these variants are faster-spreading.

Therefore, the government is calling on vulnerable people to take their second booster dose (the fourth dose of the vaccine).

So far, only a quarter of eligible people have taken their second booster dose, with an average rate of 25,000 to 30,000 injections per day for the past two months.

“This is not enough, and it is not going fast enough,” urged the Ministry of Health on Tuesday.

The Haute autorité de santé also recently released its recommendation for a vaccination campaign to give a second Covid vaccine booster shot for the wider population, starting in October. 

The HAS recommendation advises starting France’s annual flu vaccine campaign in mid October (mid September for the French overseas territory of Mayotte) and combining it with a campaign to give a second Covid vaccine booster ahead of a possible new wave of Covid in the winter. 

At present although the great majority of the French adult population is vaccinated against Covid with two doses and a booster, a second booster is only recommended for people in high risk groups such as the over 60s and those with long-term health conditions.

The HAS recommendation reads: “At the end of May, the HAS recommended preparing for a booster shot campaign for people most at risk of developing the most severe forms of Covid, and envisaged a booster shot for healthcare workers.

“Those parts of the population most at risk are also those for whom the seasonal flu vaccination is recommended, therefore for logistical reasons the HAS recommends combining the two campaigns.”

The flu campaign is advised to go ahead as normal, starting in mid-October.

The HAS only makes recommendations, the details of policy are up to the government, but it usually follows HAS advice.

The usual seasonal flu campaign in France offers a vaccine for free to anyone in a high risk group, which includes the elderly, people with underling health conditions, healthcare workers and pregnant women – full details HERE on how to get the vaccine.

Those who don’t fit into those categories can still access the vaccine, but must pay for it – €6-€10 for the vaccine and the standard appointment charge to have it administered by a doctor (€25, with 70 percent reimbursed for those with a carte vitale).

The flu vaccine is available from family doctors, midwives and participating pharmacies once the campaign officially launches.

The Covid vaccine is also available from family doctors, midwives and pharmacies, but most of the vaccine centres set up in 2021 have now been closed down.

There is currently no suggestion a return of the health pass, so a second booster shot would be entirely voluntary, but the government has the power to re-introduce such measures if a major wave of Covid hits France over the autumn and winter.

Currently, there are no plans to lower the age minimum (as of now set at 60 years old) for receiving a second booster. Health authorities believe that the immune response after a first booster “continues to sufficiently protect” younger adults.

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