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COVID-19 VACCINES

IN NUMBERS: One year of Covid vaccinations in France

Monday marks exactly one year since the first Covid vaccination was administered in France - to a 78-year-old lady named Mauricette. Here's a look at what happened next.

Mauricette receives the first Covid vaccination in France
Mauricette receives the first Covid vaccination in France on December 27th 2020. Photo: Thomas Samson/AFP

On December 27th 2020, Mauricette received her Covid vaccination in the greater Paris area and told the assembled reporters Je suis très émue (I am very moved).

One year on, here’s how the French vaccination programme is looking.

77%

Of the total French population are fully vaccinated. Overall 52.7 million have received at least one dose, while 51.6 million are counted as ‘fully vaccinated’.

Until December 22nd, only those aged 12 and over were eligible to be vaccinated, so looking at the eligible population the percentage vaccinated rises to 89 percent fully vaccinated and 91 percent who have received at least one dose.

However there are still 6 million French people who have not been vaccinated.

70-79-years-old

The 70 to 79 age group is the most vaccinated in France, with 98 percent fully vaccinated. However the over-80s age group has a significantly lower vaccination take-up, an unusual pattern not replicated in most European countries.

Just 86 percent of over 80s in France are fully vaccinated, lower than the 70-79 age group (98 percent) and the 60-69, 50-59 and 18-29 age groups, all of which have over 90 percent coverage.

This is of concern to the authorities, as over 80s are likely to be vulnerable to developing the most serious forms of the virus that can result in hospitalisation and death. 

Percentage of the population who have received at least one dose of the vaccine, be region. Map: Covidtracker.fr

40%

While overall vaccine coverage is high, the figures hides wide regional disparities. France’s overseas territories of Martinique and Guadeloupe have only 38 and 39 percent respectively of the population vaccinated, while attempts to introduce the health pass and vaccine mandates for healthcare workers lead to several weeks of violent protests.

Within mainland France, the island of Corsica has the lowest vaccination coverage with just 66.1 percent of the total population having received at least one dose.

Overall the west of France has higher rates than the east, with Brittany the most vaccinated region with 82.5 percent of the population vaccinated, compared to 73.3 percent in the southern Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region.

22 million

The booster shot campaign was launched in France in September, initially reserved for high-risk groups before being expanded by age and then opened up to all adults in November.

Since the beginning of the booster shot campaign the recommended gap between second dose and booster has shortened several times, it is now recommended that people get their booster four months after becoming fully vaccinated (after the second dose for most people).

As of December 26th, 22,002,825 booster doses have been administered in France, according to the Health Ministry.

79%

France has been heavily reliant on Pfizer for its vaccine programme and in total 79 percent of all vaccines administered in France have been Pfizer.

In total four vaccine types are licensed for use in France; Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson (Janssen).

However only Pfizer is recommended for all uses by French health authorities, as younger people are not advised to have AstraZeneca after reports of rare but severe side effects including blot clots were reported in several European countries. AstraZeneca is still used for older age groups, but there have been issues of supply from AstraZeneca to the EU vaccine procurement programme, which France uses.

Only Pfizer and Moderna are used in the booster shot programme, with Moderna not recommended for under 30s, because of very rare cardiac side effects.

Pfizer is also the only vaccine to have received approval from the European Medicines Agency for use in the 5-11 age group, who have been eligible for a vaccine in France since December 22nd, although Moderna has also submitted an application to the EMA for approval for use on under 12s.

International comparisons

International comparisons should be taken with a pinch of salt, as much depends on having accurate population figures and up-to-date data on the vaccine programme.

However when looking at comparisons for the share of the population that is fully vaccinated or has received at least one dose, France is generally towards the top of league tables with a good level of vaccine coverage.

Opening up vaccinations early to over 12s and more recently to over 5s has also helped France to increase its percentage of the total population vaccinated.

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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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