It is by far the most popular Covid-19 vaccine in France – and now GPs and pharmacists can order doses to inject patients, after previously only being available from hospitals and vaccine centres.
The first vials were delivered to surgeries and pharmacies for use from Friday, October 8th. It is hoped that more holdouts will be persuaded to get the vaccine now that it can be administered by their GP, or by a nurse in their own home and reinvigorate the rapidly slowing vaccination campaign against the deadly virus.
The arrival of the Pfizer vaccine at doctors’ offices and chemists coincides with the start of France’s annual flu vaccine campaign, which begins at the end of the month. The two jabs may be administered at the same time.
Although nearly 50 million people, or 72 percent of the total French population, have had complete doses of Covid-19 vaccine, and nearly 75 percent at least one dose (87.1 and 84.4 percent of eligible inhabitants ie those aged 12 and over) the pace of the booster campaign for people over 65 and immunocompromised is too slow, according to the government, while 12.8 percent of eligible people – or 7.8 million people – are still to have any dose.
So far, some 896,000 people have received a booster third dose since the beginning of the school year, out of 3 to 4 million who are eligible. The government considers that figure to be “insufficient”, according to government spokesman, Gabriel Attal.
The government is counting on this switch to GPs, nurses and pharmacies, to replace the large vaccination centres, many of which are now closing because of a decrease in the number of available volunteers.
GPs or family doctors will be able to offer first, second or third (booster) injections as required.
“Being able to offer Pfizer in doctors’ offices, in pharmacies and by nurses, it helps convince many more people.” Gilles Bonnefond, of the Union des syndicats de pharmaciens, told franceinfo.
“With Moderna there was sometimes a certain reluctance … even though it is just as effective.”
When it was first distributed, the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine had to be stored at -70C, a temperature that meant it was impossible for doctors to store. Developments mean it can now be stored for up to a month in a refrigerator.