French doctor: I was happy to get Covid vaccine

‘It is good for well-known doctors to set an example and I was happy to do this’

7 January 2021
By Thomas Brent

Dr Jean-Paul Hamon, honorary president of the Fédération des Médecins de France doctors’ union, received his first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine yesterday (January 6) and posted a photo of it on Twitter.

He is 74 years old and an active health professional, meaning that since Monday (January 4) he has been eligible for the vaccine.

He told The Connexion about his experience and gave his thoughts on the government’s roll-out strategy. 

How was the vaccination process for you?

It was very simple. I phoned my doctor friends and got an appointment and then went and got vaccinated. 

How long did it take?

About five minutes for the vaccine and I waited for about 15 minutes in the waiting room.

You gave your consent before?

Of course. Doctors can register online and they have my social security number, so it was quick.

Some people say the process is too complicated administratively. What do you think of that?

Yes it’s true. The process of getting consent from retirement home residents is long. They have a document of 45 pages where one whole page is dedicated just to ‘how to administer the jab’. 

But between doctors, we consider that from the moment I sign up for the vaccine we understand that I give my consent, so I didn’t have to sign anything further.

So the process is only really long for retirement home residents?

Yes. In fact, the declared consent is a good thing, but it’s true that the process in retirement homes is complicated because some people can’t read or they have difficulties cognitively, so someone else must give the consent.

So, between Christmas and New Year the process was particularly long. 

Why France’s Covid-19 vaccine rollout has started slowly

There is a government text that says that the consultation must take place five days before the vaccine is given. However, the administration is saying that this rule has been misunderstood and it was just for the initial phase. 

From now we should be able to get the consent and give the vaccine straight away. This should speed up the process. The French administration is now trying to give a bit of flexibility.

‘Cancer patients should also be priority for Covid vaccine’

The strategy is good on paper. It allows us to firstly, protect the most vulnerable people and secondly to make sure the health professionals do not catch the virus and can continue to work. 

But with the complexities of the administrative process in France, things have been moving slowly. 

We could have vaccinated doctors quickly. Imagine half of the GPs in the country agree to be vaccinated - that makes 250,000 people. We could have done it quickly. 

Easy-look guide to France’s Covid-19 vaccination rollout

Is it useful that well-known doctors publicise their vaccinations?

Of course, we need to give examples. 

When will we start to see the effects of the vaccine?

When we vaccinate 60% of people. But it’s already good if we can protect the most vulnerable.

Read more:

French Defence Council meets today to discuss Covid measures

French health workers remain sceptical of Covid vaccine

Second Covid vaccine approved by EU health agency

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