France opens up last minute Covid vaccinations to all over 18s

France on Tuesday 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.

France opens up last minute Covid vaccinations to all over 18s
A picture shows vials of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at a Covid-19 vaccination center in Paris, on May 8, 2021, amid the campaign of vaccination against the coronavirus. (Photo by Martin BUREAU / AFP)

From Tuesday anyone over 18, regardless of their medical condition, were eligible to book a vaccine slot as long as there were spare doses.

Up until now the vaccine slots have been reserved for certain age groups and those with underlying medical conditions, but Tuesday marked the first time any member of the public could book an appointment.

On Monday the vaccine programme was opened up to all over 50s in France whilst all over 18s will be able to book normal vaccine slots that are not dependent on spare doses from June 15th.

The move to allow over 18s to take up spare doses and vacant appointment slots was announced last week by President Emmanuel Macron but was launched on Tuesday one day ahead of schedule.

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

“We are delighted to announce the launch of the vaccination booking system for all over 18s, for the appointments that remained free for the following day. We are one day ahead of the schedule set by the president last week,” the head of Doctolib Stanislas Niox-Chateau told RMC Radio.

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.

Some 18 million first doses have been injected in France since the vaccination campaign began in December. The government hopes to hit its target of 20 million first doses by May 15th.

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French government votes to allow return of Covid tests at border

The French parliament has passed the controversial health bill which updates France's emergency provisions for Covid - and allows the return of negative Covid tests for all travellers at the border, if the health situation requires.

French government votes to allow return of Covid tests at border

The Loi sanitaire was eventually approved by the Assemblée nationale on Monday after several variations and amendments added on its passage through the Assemblée and the Senate. It was voted on and passed Tuesday, May 26th. 

The bill replaces the State of Health Emergency that has been in place since March 2020 and puts in place provision for government actions should the health situation deteriorate or a dangerous new variant of Covid emerge.

The original text had a provision for the return of the health pass at the border, but this has now been scrapped and instead the government has the right to make a negative Covid test a condition of entry for all travellers.

At present negative tests are required only for unvaccinated travellers, and the new test requirement would only be put into force if a dangerous new variant emerges.

The government will be able to implement the testing rule by decree for two months, but a further parliamentary debate would be required to extend it beyond that.

From August 1st the State of Health Emergency will be formally repealed, which means that the government no longer has the power to introduce major limits on personal freedom such as lockdowns or curfews without first having a debate in parliament.

The bill also allows for an extension of data collection required for the SI-DEP epidemic monitoring tools such as the contact tracing app Tous Anti Covid until June 30th, 2023 and Contact Covid until January 31st, 2023. 

The most controversial measure in the bill was the reinstatement of healthcare workers who were suspended for being unvaccinated – this actually only involves a couple of hundred people but medical unions and the medical regulator Haut Autorité de Santé (HAS) have both been against it.

However the bill allows for the eventual lifting of the requirement for Covid vaccination for healthcare workers, when the HAS judges it is no longer necessary and once the requirement is lifted, the suspended healthcare workers will be reinstated “immediately”.

The bill was approved on Monday evening with 184 votes to 149, the result of a joint committee that was able to harmonise the versions of the Assembly and the Senate.

The final vote passed the Senate on Tuesday.