Why the holiday weekend could be the perfect time to find a vaccine appointment in France

Why the holiday weekend could be the perfect time to find a vaccine appointment in France
Photo: Geoffroy van der Hasselt/AFP
If you're over 18, live in France, and have not yet checked to see if you can book a last-minute Covid-19 vaccination, this weekend might be a good time to do it.

All over-18s in France can now book a Covid-19 vaccination – if they can find a vacant slot within the next 24 hours.

READ ALSO How to book a last-minute Covid-19 vaccination appointment

However sky-high demand in certain areas has lead to booking sites crashing as under 50s scramble to secure a last-minute slot.

So if you’re one of the people who has been disappointed in your quest, this weekend could be a good time to try. 

Thursday marked Ascension, a much-loved public holiday in France and many families have decided to faire le pont by booking a day’s holiday on Friday to create a long weekend and head off on a short break.

But, although many towns and cities may well be quieter than usual, there is no let-up in the country’s vaccination programme.

As President Emmanuel Macron said: “There are no weekends and holidays for vaccination.”

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Many – but not all – vaccination centres will remained open on Thursday and will be open throughout the weekend. But, because people are away for a few days, more spare slots than usual may be available. 

“We were warned that we should remain open for Ascension and Pentecost, so we mobilised accordingly,” Bernard Pfister, a doctor at the vaccination centre in Molsheim (Bas-Rhin) told Francetvinfo.  “We will be operational, including Sunday, which is usually a closed day.”  

In nearby Strasbourg, a vaccination centre that had closed over the Easter weekend will remain open – because it has enough doses of vaccine available to do so.

But on the other side of the coin, one vaccination centre in Mayenne will only open for three days next week, one local GP claimed, because of a lack of doses.

Another, in Indre-et-Loire, said it was impossible to remain open seven days a week, as medics used up all their available doses in six.

And he pointed out that those running vaccination centres needed a break. It was important, he said, “that the professionals get to rest. This also applies to the retirees and volunteers. 

“We embarked on a marathon, not a sprint.” 

There are lots of local variations, but in general the large ‘vaccinedromes’ hosted in sports stadiums and expo centres tend to be open for longer hours.

To help you find a slot, you can try the ChronoDoses site, which searches for all available next-day slots in your area – find out more here.

Some 18.5 million people have received one Covid-19 vaccine dose and another 8.2 million have had two, according to official figures. The government has set a target of 20 million first doses by Saturday, May 15th, although experts think it is more likely that the 20 million figure will be hit on Monday, May 17th, because of the holiday effect.

The 24-hour rule applies only to people who are under 50 and have no medical conditions.

The following groups can book appointments for any time:

  • Over 50s
  • Under 50s with a medical condition, including severe asthma, diabetes or a BMI of over 30 – find the full list here
  • Under 50s who are close contacts of a person with a compromised immune system
  • Healthcare workers
  • People aged 16 and 17 with severe health conditions including cancer or transplant patients.

Find the full details on vaccine eligibility HERE.



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