100,000 vaccine boosters booked in France after Macron’s announcement

More than 100,000 people have booked themselves in for a Covid vaccine booster in the hours after President Emmanuel Macron's televised address to the nation.

A smart phone screen displays the Doctolib and French health pass app side by side. Over 65s will need receive a booster jab for their health pass to remain valid.
Demand for vaccination appointments has surged on the Docotolib booking website following Macron's presidential address (Photo by Olivier MORIN / AFP)

President Macron announced on Tuesday that over 65s would need booster jabs in order to retain a valid health pass. He also said that eligibility for booster jabs would be expanded to the over 50s from December. The result, inevitably, has been a spike in demand. 

According to statistics from the medical bookings website, Doctolib, 149,084 booster dose appointments were made on Tuesday. Close to two thirds of these appointments were made in the hour directly following Macron’s address. 

While it is possible to reserve slots for vaccination directly via your GP, pharmacy or vaccination centre, the vast majority of people book appointments online. 

READ ALSO French Covid health pass for over-65s to depend on booster jab

While those aged 50 and over are more likely to be fully vaccinated than younger population groups, they account for 83 percent of those hospitalised in intensive care units, according to Macron. 

Age remains an important factor when it comes to the risk of falling seriously ill with Covid-19. As more and more people are vaccinated across age groups, the relative importance of age will increase.

READ ALSO Reader question: I’m over 65 but not yet eligible for a booster, can I still use my French health pass?

As Europe confronts a fifth wave of the pandemic, the French government sees vaccination as key to making it through a tough winter.

“Thanks to vaccination, we have built a wall against serious forms of coronavirus,” said government spokesman Gabriel Attal on Wednesday morning, in an interview with Franceinfo. “We cannot let this wall crack”

Stripping the health pass away from those over 65s without booster jabs is a significant incentive. Without a health pass or recent negative Covid test, it is impossible to enter bars, restaurants, cinemas, long-distance trains and a variety of other public spaces. 

READ ALSO What does Macron’s announcement change for France’s Covid vaccine boosters?

As it stands, health passes will be deactivated for the over 65s if they have still not received a booster dose more than six months and five weeks after their second regular dose. 

Health workers, domestic carers, immunodeficient people, those with chronic health conditions and anyone who has had a single-dose Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine are also eligible to receive a booster – but do not currently risk losing their health pass should they fail to do so. 

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France approves new vaccines for Covid Omicron sub-variants

France's health authority said Tuesday it had approved three new vaccines against the prevalent Omicron sub-variants of the Covid-19 virus, in a bid to prevent a jump in infections as colder weather approaches.

France approves new vaccines for Covid Omicron sub-variants

The so-called “bivalent: shots, approved by the European Medicines Agency earlier this month, target the BA.1, BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron variants, now responsible for the bulk of new cases since the outbreak began worldwide in early 2020.

French authorities are urging at-risk patients — including those over 60 or adults with pre-existing conditions — to get the bivalent vaccines as part of its booster campaign.

“The number of infections has again started rising in the past few days,” the HAS health authority said, noting that the BA.5 sub-variant was causing the most new cases.

The new vaccine targeting the highly contagious BA.4 and BA.5 types is made by Pfizer and BioNTech, while jabs from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna are for BA.1.