A leading French pharmacist has said more people in France should get vaccinated against Covid-19 at local pharmacies and doctors' surgeries.
Gilles Bonnefond, president of the Union des syndicats des pharmaciens d'officine, said that 300,000 to 400,000 extra people could be vaccinated each week by doing so.
There are three Covid-19 vaccines available in pharmacies and at doctor’s surgeries: Moderna, AstraZeneca and Janssen (Johnson & Johnson).
The Moderna vaccine began being administered in pharmacies on May 28.
Read more: You can now book Moderna jab appointment at French pharmacies and GPs
Pharmacist advises people to sign up on local waiting lists
Mr Bonnefond told FranceInfo on May 31: “What we are asking patients to do is to contact their pharmacist or doctor and to sign up to their waiting list. Then your local health professional will call you when they have doses available.”
Pharmacies in France can order two vials of the Moderna vaccine per week meaning they can vaccinate around 20 patients. GPs are eligible for one vial.
Mr Bonnefond said the waiting-list system could help encourage people who have not yet been vaccinated as they have been put off by the difficulty of finding an appointment online, particularly those aged over 60.
30% of people in this age group have not yet had a first jab.
He said: “When we ask them in the pharmacy they say ‘I’m not vaccinated because I tried to get an appointment on Doctolib, but it was difficult so I’m waiting.’ Well, don’t wait any more!”
He said the waiting-list system would help make sure that no doses went to waste.
“For Moderna you need a group of 11 patients that you can vaccinate in half a day in order to avoid waste, that takes a certain amount of organisation,” he said.
June must be month of vaccination
The pharmacist said that “June must be a month of vaccination” in France, adding that 80-85% of people needed to be vaccinated as soon as possible in order to have a “calm summer, and not run into trouble in September”.
Figures from May 29 show that over 25 million people in France have received a first dose of the vaccine, equivalent to 37.81% of the population.
Of those already vaccinated, 22.19% – almost 12 million – have received two doses.
The government aims to have vaccinated 30 million people with one dose by mid-June, after hitting its previous target of 20 million first doses by mid-May.
Mr Bonnefond said this goal was attainable as long as all health professionals including pharmacists were fully utilised and enough doses to meet demand were delivered.
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