France to start Covid jabs for under 65s: Who is eligible?
The AstraZeneca vaccine will be administered by doctors but places will be limited at first and only for those with existing medical conditions
People aged between 50 to 64 with existing medical conditions will be able to receive a Covid-19 vaccination from their local GP starting from Thursday February 25.
It marks the next step in the vaccination rollout in France and will allow doctors to administer the AstraZeneca vaccine at their practices.
However, only a limited number of doses will be available initially and doctors must register to participate.
The AstraZeneca vaccine can be stored in a standard refrigerator at between 2 and 8C, making distribution to GP practices easier.
The French health authority the Haute Autorité de Santé has not yet approved this vaccine for use among people aged over 65.
This means that people aged between 65 to 74 are for the moment unable to receive a Covid-19 vaccination in France, unless they are health professionals or have serious underlying health issues.
How many doses will be available?
A first batch of 700,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine has been delivered to pharmacies around France this week.
Doctors who wish to administer the vaccine in their practice had until yesterday evening (February 17) to register with a pharmacy of their choice in order to receive one vial containing 10 doses of the vaccine next week.
After the first week, GPs will be able to order two or three vials the following week.
"Then, the greater the supply of AstraZeneca, the more vials there will be. Eventually, doctors will be able to have five or six a week," said Stanislas Niox-Chateau, the CEO and co-founder of Doctolib, one of the online booking platforms that is officially partnered with the government for the vaccination campaign.
He said that the system will become more fluid as time goes by, and that booking appointments will become easier from "mid-March", the newspaper Le Figaro reports.
Which people aged 50 to 64 are considered priority?
People of this age group with existing medical conditions, such as diabetes, cancer, respiratory disease, chronic kidney disease, obesity, etc. will be considered priority.
Doctors have been asked to identify the relevant patients.
How can they book an appointment?
If you are eligible and your GP has signed up to administer the vaccine, then your doctor may contact you to arrange an appointment.
You can also contact your GP directly to find out if you are eligible.
Otherwise, you can book a vaccination appointment with your local GP using Doctolib from February 25 Mr Niox-Chateau has said. However, given that doctors will initially receive very few doses, it is unlikely that there will be many slots available.
Dr Marie Msika Razon, a GP in Paris who is listed on Doctolib and is part of the site’s medical committee, told Le Figaro that most doctors would first reach out to their patients.
“Initially, we are going to take a proactive approach and warn the patients we know", she said.
She also said that along with colleagues she had spoken to, they were planning to dedicate one time slot to administer all of the first 10 doses of the vaccine.
“Otherwise, it seems complicated to intersperse these appointments with normal consultations,” she said.
What about people aged 65 to 74?
People in this age bracket are not yet eligible to be vaccinated against Covid-19 unless they have serious existing medical conditions.
People in France aged 75 and over are eligible to receive the vaccines developed by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna while those aged between 50 and 64 are eligible for the AstraZeneca vaccine.
The French government has not yet set a date for when those aged 65 to 74 will be able to receive a vaccination.