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HEALTH

France launches hotline for elderly to get Covid vaccine at home

Older people living in France can now call a freephone number to arrange a Covid-19 vaccination at home, as the government bids to boost the number of over-80s who are protected against the virus.

An older woman in France receives a Covid-19 injection in her left arm from a doctor wearing a facemask
Older people can get their Covid vaccine at home. Photo: Thomas Coex / AFP

More than 500,000 over-80s have not received a single dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, according to official figures, prompting the government to offer the home vaccination service and freephone booking service.

The freephone helpline – 0800 730 957 – operates from 6am to 10pm seven days a week, and is intended for over-80s and their families to arrange a home visit from a nurse to administer the vaccine.

Call handlers can also answer questions and help alleviate any concerns that older people may have about having the injections.

READ ALSO New wave of Covid cases in France is likely, but not as bad as the UK’s

“These people are less likely to be followed by a GP and have difficulty travelling,” the Health Ministry said at the launch of the freephone line. “A family carer, home help or any other person willing to help the elderly person can call so that a vaccination at home, or an appointment with a GP or nurse can be proposed.”

Older age groups are less well protected from Covid-19 than younger people, despite being more likely to be hospitalised if they contract the illness. An estimated 10 percent of over-75s have not made an appointment.

As well as those who have yet to be vaccinated, it is hoped that the helpline and home-visit system will also increase the take-up of the booster shot among those already vaccinated.

So far 2.5 million of 6 million eligible people have received their booster.

On Tuesday Health Minister Olivier Véran – who as a doctor was vaccinated back in February – had his third dose, and urged those who are eligible to follow suit.

READ ALSO Swiss residents crossing border to France for ‘cheaper Covid tests’

Other systems that have been trialled to encourage the remaining cohort of the population to be vaccinated include transport vouchers to help people get to appointments, and letters inviting people to book one of a number of available vaccination slots.

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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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