Medical professionals who have already ordered – and received – doses of the ‘new’ Covid vaccine can from today (October 3) start administering them to eligible people.
There are two kinds of new vaccines becoming available this month but reportedly only one is starting to be provided today. This is by Moderna and is based on a double protection against the original version of the Covid virus and specifically the ‘BA.1’ Omicron sub-variant.
From Thursday (October 6), doses of a second vaccine, by Pfizer/BioNTech adapted to the original version and Omicron BA.5 and BA.4 will start to be available.
France’s health service quality regulator has said that either can be administered, indifferently, apart from for people aged under 30 who are advised not to have the Moderna vaccine, due to potential increased risks of effects on the heart.
The new vaccines are expected to be ‘at least’ as effective as the previous ones and it is hoped they will be superior, though no studies yet exist to prove this to be the case.
Who are the ‘new’ vaccines targeted at?
The groups being prioritised, where stocks are available, are:
People aged over 60
Residents of care homes (Ehpad and Unités de soins de longue durée (USLD)
People aged at least 18 and at risk of developing a serious form of Covid (those who have weakened immune systems, pregnant women, those with serious long-term health conditions…)
People living with/in close contact with the vulnerable people in the point above
What exactly changes from today?
The ‘new’ vaccines, where available, will be proposed to those in the groups above when they go for a booster jab.
In the first instance stocks are expected to be limited, though by the end of the month millions of doses will be delivered by the labs. They will not be used for those who are undergoing their first rounds of Covid vaccination treatment.
What is more, people in the relevant groups who have previously been fully-vaccinated against Covid are now eligible to book in for another booster, regardless of how many they have had before.
France’s Haute Autorité de la Santé advises those in the eligible groups above should book in for a booster whether or not one of the ‘new’ vaccines are used (stocks allowing) as it says that the original vaccines remain effective.
The only additional conditions for a new jab are that you must have had your last injection at least three months ago if you are aged 80 or more, live in an Ehpad or USLD or have a weakened immune system, or six months ago in the case of the other groups.
You should also not have had Covid within the three months before having the jab.
In reality, all those now eligible for this autumn’s booster campaign have been eligible for some time for a booster, and in many cases a second booster (also referred to as the ‘third’ and ‘fourth doses’). People who have already had a second booster are being encouraged to receive a further one if they meet the eligibility criteria listed above and sufficient time has passed.
Where can you get the ‘new’ boosters?
The vaccinations are mostly taking place in ordinary pharmacies and by people’s GPs. If you wish it is possible to book via the website sante.fr or at doctolib.fr. Alternatively, simply ask your pharmacist or doctor.
What about the flu vaccination?
This year’s flu vaccination campaign gets underway on October 18. The government is encouraging those having flu jabs and who are eligible for a Covid booster to have both at the same time, one in each arm.