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COVID-19 VACCINES

Reader question: What vaccine should I choose for my third jab in France?

France is offering third 'booster' shot vaccinations to certain groups, but should you be getting the same vaccine as your previous doses? Read on to find out which vaccine to choose and whether you are eligible.

Moderna and Pfizer booster shots are available to certain groups in France
(Photo by Patrick T. FALLON / AFP)

Question: I’ve received an email from Ameli regarding my booster jab. I have been told to make an appointment but there is no information on whether to ask for the same vaccine (in my case AstraZeneca) or to ask for an alternative. What are the official health guidelines in France? 

For third or ‘booster’ vaccinations against Covid-19, France initially offered either Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech.

However following concerns raised in Scandinavian countries of rare heart problems in young people, the French medical regular has advised against using Moderna for the booster. This temporary change is in place until the European Medicines Agency publishes its own opinion on Moderna as a booster.  

According to French public health guidelines, vaccines can be used interchangeably no matter what shots you had before. The scientific journal, Nature, found that mixing Covid vaccines could even boost immune response. Other studies have suggested that booster shots can significantly reduce the risk of severe illness deriving from Covid-19.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has said that booster shots should be targeted at vulnerable populations. The WHO has said that there is evidence that a third should could significantly reduce risk – particularly among immunocompromised groups, but has stopped short of recommending boosters as a blanket rule. 

The French Health Minister has stressed that taking a third dose poses no risk. 

READ MORE: France begins administering Covid booster shots for over 65s

In other words, you will not be able to have a third dose of AstraZeneca but it is still probably worth your time to get a booster shot. 

Am I eligible for a third dose? 

To receive a booster dose, you must meet one of the following criteria:

  • Residency in an old-people’s home (Éhpad) or long-term care facility (USLD)
  • Aged 65 and over and living at home (those over 80-years-old will be given priority)
  • Have a chronic illness or comorbidity which places you at higher risk or falling seriously ill with Covid-19
  • Have severe immunodeficiency (in which case you will eventually be eligible for a 4th dose)
  • Be at least six months after your last dose

Where can I get a third dose? 

You can get a third dose at a doctor’s or nurse’s office; in a pharmacy; or at a vaccination centre. 

The easiest way to book a free vaccination appointment is through the Doctolib website. You can find a full list of vaccination centres here

After receiving a third dose, can I forget about the virus? 

French health authorities insist that even those that are fully vaccinated should continue to respect social distancing measures, wearing masks and washing hands. This is particularly important when in contact with people who are at greater risk of falling seriously ill (the elderly and those with comorbidities). 

READ MORE: How can I get my Covid vaccine booster in France? 

You can still get infected with the virus and pass it on even if you are fully vaccinated. The main advantage of vaccination is that it reduces your chance of getting seriously ill from the virus. 8 out of 10 people currently hospitalised with Covid in France are unvaccinated. 

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COVID-19 VACCINES

More than 100,000 protest Macron’s plan to ‘piss off the unvaccinated’

More than 100,000 people across France protested on Saturday over what they say are government plans to further restrict the rights of the unvaccinated.

More than 100,000 protest Macron's plan to 'piss off the unvaccinated'
Demonstrators hold a banner reading " The youth piss off the vaccine front " during a protest against the health pass on Saturday. Photo: Christophe Archambault/AFP

The protest came only days after French President Emmanuel Macron vowed to “piss off” those refusing the jab.

The turnout was four times higher than the numbers who answered the December 18 call to protest, when 25,500 people marched across the country, according to government estimates.

The protests oppose a planned law that will require individuals to prove they are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus before they can eat out, travel on inter-city trains or attend cultural events.

On Thursday, France’s lower house of parliament passed the controversial bill in a first reading. The government has said it expects the new requirements to be implemented by January 15, although lawmakers in the Senate could now delay the process.

About 18,000 protesters gathered in Paris. Photo: Christophe Archambault/AFP

Interior ministry officials said 105,200 people participated in Saturday’s protests across France, 18,000 of them in the capital Paris, where police reported 10 arrests and three officers slightly injured. Elsewhere there were 24 arrests and seven police officers lightly injured according to the ministry.

Among the larger demonstrations, around 6,000 demonstrators turned out in Toulon, while in Montpellier police used teargas during clashes with protesters.

READ ALSO: 

France recorded 303,669 new coronavirus cases on Saturday amid mounting pressure on hospitals.

The Paris protesters, many of them unmasked, braved the cold and rain brandishing placards emblazoned with the word “truth” and “No to vaccine passes”.

Others took aim at Macron, using the same coarse language he employed in his attack on people holding out against vaccination earlier in the week.

Macron said Friday that he fully stands by controversial remarks he made on Tuesday, when he vowed to “piss off” people not vaccinated against Covid-19 until they accept shots.

The earthy language and uncompromising approach provoked uproar in French media and from opponents.

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