People aged over 60 in France are being urged to get a second Covid booster vaccine dose as case numbers rise, but there have been reports that in some areas it is near impossible to find an appointment.
One Connexion reader living in Dordogne, Richard*, said: “I think it wonderful that the French authorities should contact the general public via email urging [eligible people to get their second booster].
Vaccination centres closed or fully booked
“Unfortunately, the system seems to stop at the reminder stage,” he added.
“For an entire week now I have been trying to find somewhere or someone to give my 4th booster shot with no success.
“Following the instructions on TousAntiCovid, [I] headed off to my nearest town, Sarlat.
“By mistake I went to the Sarlat Hospital, only to be told they do not give injections there and that I should try a pharmacy or infirmier/infirmière.
“So I went to the large pharmacy, [and was told:] ‘Sorry, we don’t do vaccines here. Not enough demand.’ Next I went to the place in which I had my first vaccination.
“It was closed, so then I went to the place listed on the TousAntiCovid App, Centre Hospitalier de Jean Leclaire in Sarlat, where my second injection had been delivered.
“It too was firmly and permanently closed.
“Next, I telephoned my local infirmière who was happy to come and take a blood test, but who couldn’t offer me a Covid shot.
“I then tried telephoning the Salignac vaccination centre. They rarely pick up the phone, so I drove there to make an appointment. Success! Rather partial success.
“The lady who gives the injections was on holiday but would telephone me as soon as possible. Three days later she did. But only to tell me that she was fully booked and couldn’t and suggested I try a pharmacy in Terrasson.
Over the weekend, Richard “tried another pharmacy, in Le Lardin-Saint-Lazare, and they told me they were ‘plein’.
“Finally I resorted to telephoning pharmacies and found a spot for tomorrow afternoon at the Pharmacie de Vézère in Montignac.”
A situation which varies according to the department
A search on the vaccination appointment booking service Vite Ma Dose suggests that the majority of centres in Dordogne have closed down, and that many pharmacies have stopped offering the service, meaning that on most days there are zero slots available.
A resident of Drôme told Franceinfo that she would have to drive an hour and a half to the closest operating vaccination centre, and departments including Vendée, Landes, Tarn, Haute-Savoie and Côtes-d’Armor are also seeing a shortage of slots.
However, the situation appears to vary according to the department. Although many pharmacies are no longer offering vaccinations in Alpes-Maritimes, for example, there still appear to be hundreds of appointments each day.
In Deux-Sèvres there are around 40 slots on offer each day, while in Morbihan there are zero.
The Connexion has contacted the health ministry to ask how widespread this issue is, and whether measures are being put in place to ensure that people who are eligible for a fourth vaccine dose can access a vaccination centre.
We have also contacted the Dordogne prefecture to ask for a list of the pharmacies still carrying out vaccinations.
Vaccination centres were already beginning to close due to lack of demand back in February, when France Inter reported that sites in Paris and Yvelines were shutting their doors.
The manager of a centre in Montrouge (Hauts-de-Seine) told the radio station that: “In December, we were at 800 vaccinations per day; today we have divided that by four.”
However, since the government renewed its appeals to eligible groups to receive their second booster dose, 30,000 people have been making appointments every day.
The latest available data shows that 13,984 people got a booster dose in the 24 hours leading up to July 6. However, it is not specified whether it is the first or second booster.
The groups who are eligible for the additional booster dose are:
People over 60
Care home residents
Have you struggled to find a vaccination appointment for your second booster dose? Tell us about it at email@example.com
*Name changed at the request of the reader