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COVID-19 VACCINES

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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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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