France recommends Covid-19 vaccine for ‘high-risk’ children from age 5

Health authorities in France have recommended that children aged five to 11 who have a ‘higher risk of developing a serious form’ of Covid-19 should be vaccinated.

A child, aged 11, receiving a Covid-19 vaccine
Photo: Andrej Ivanov / AFP

Vaccination is also recommended for children who live with or are otherwise close to people who, for health reasons of their own, cannot be vaccinated.

At least 360,000 children, according to official figures, with a range of chronic illnesses – including heart disease, heart defects, serious lung disease, cancer, kidney disease, liver disease, or severe forms of asthma would be eligible, the Haute Autorité de Santé (HAS) has said.

In France the HAS is advisory and it is up to the government to set policy, but it is rare for the government to go against HAS advice.

On the subject of vaccines for all 5-11 year-olds, health minister Olivier Véran said in his speech last week that a consultation was ongoing. He said that a decision would be made on this in the New Year.

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“Doctors may also offer this vaccination to children who have rare pathologies that are not on the list but for which there is also a risk,” Daniel Floret, vice-president of the HAS’s technical commission for vaccinations told Franceinfo.

“It is also recommended for children close to immunocompromised people because they have very limited protection, who respond poorly to vaccines, so vaccinating those around them is one way to protect them.”

A smaller dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine, three times lower than the dose for adults, is available for children who fall into the vulnerable category.

The recommendation comes a week after the European Medicines Agency recommended a 10 microgram dose of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine for all children aged between five and 11 years old.

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The HAS has yet to publish its advice on this subject.

“It is well known that children usually have mild forms of the disease so the individual benefit of vaccination is not as obvious as in adults or in children who have risk factors,” Floret said, explaining that the HAS was waiting for further data from the US.

“We will soon have the data of the American experience since Americans will have vaccinated several million children, so if there are particular tolerance problems, it will appear in clinical trials,” he said.

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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.


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.