Health minister Olivier Véran announced on Tuesday a new policy for the second doses of Covid vaccines.
Instead of waiting six weeks for the second dose, people will be able to book a second appointment between 3 and 7 weeks after the first.
Véran tweeted: “Are you hesitating to get vaccinated in June because you will be on holiday in July? Don’t hesitate any longer. We are changing the appointment system to allow you to schedule your booster between 21 and 49 days after the 1st injection.”
Vous hésitez à vous faire vacciner en juin parce que vous serez en vacances en juillet ? N'hésitez plus. Nous modifions les systèmes de rendez-vous pour vous permettre de programmer votre rappel entre 21 et 49 jours après la 1ere injection.
— Olivier Véran (@olivierveran) June 15, 2021
There was no date given for when the new system will be in place, but people who have booked their appointments via the DoctoLib app already have the option to log in to the site and change the date or time of any appointment, including vaccine appointments.
It was later clarified that the change affects the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines – Pfizer makes up the vast bulk of vaccine doses given in France – and not the AstraZeneca vaccine.
The change comes as France battles to get as many people as possible fully vaccinated quickly before cases of the Delta variant first detected in India spread.
Véran, on a visit to a vaccine centre in Paris on Tuesday, revealed that this variant now makes up two to four percent of new cases in France.
He added: “You will say that this is still a small number, but that was the situation in England a few weeks ago.”
Research from the UK shows that while both Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines give a high level of protection against the Delta variant with two doses, protection from a single dose is much lower – around 30 percent for Pfizer and less for AstraZeneca.
There is also concern over whether France can keep up the pace of its vaccine programme over July and August, when French people traditionally take summer holidays and head to the coast or the countryside.
France has already hits is target to have 30 million people vaccinated with at least one dose by June 15th and the next target is to have offered the vaccine to all adults who want it by August 31st.