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France's PM says free Covid vaccine ready within weeks

One million of the most vulnerable people will be vaccinated against Covid-19 as early as January

Prime Minister Jean Castex laid out France's vaccination strategy during a press conference on Thursday, December 3, saying that a vaccination campaign was a matter of weeks away and that one million vulnerable people are expected to be vaccinated as early as January.

"We will not start anything without the approval of the health authorities on each vaccine," Mr Castex said, adding that the country was ready to begin vaccinating as soon as the vaccines are authorised.

Mr Castex said, "getting vaccinated also means protecting others, it's an act of altruism."

Key points:

  • France will receive 200 million doses of the vaccine, enough to vaccinate 100 million people as it will be delivered in two doses. Mr Castex said, "that's more than we need.”
  • The vaccination will be free for everyone
  • People will be able to get the vaccination from their local GP.
  • Before any vaccination is given, there will be a consultation with a GP, a signed consent form and an appointment to give the second injection required for this vaccine three weeks later.
  • The vaccination campaign is now just a "matter of weeks" away. One million vulnerable people are expected to be vaccinated as early as January.
  • The government has budgeted €1.5 billion for 2021 for vaccination
  • There will be a parliamentary debate on the vaccination strategy
  • The vaccines will be delivered to each EU country at the same time and in quantities set pro rata to the populations of each state. That is 15% for France.
  • Mr Castex said that the vaccination campaign will not replace the current tools for fighting Covid-19, such as the respect of barrier gestures or the "test, trace, isolate" strategy. "It will be a new weapon that will be added to our other tools but will not replace them," he said.
  • There are three different vaccines in phase three of testing: from Pfizer, Moderna and Sanofi. Agnès Pannier-Runacher, minister for industry, said "the first two vaccines eligible for approval will be partly manufactured in France."
  • Health minister Olivier Véran said that masks and barrier gestures will remain the norm for several more months. "At this stage, we don't have enough information on the capacity of candidate vaccines to prevent transmission of the virus," he said. 

The vaccine will be rolled out in three steps

January/February 2021: Elderly people in retirement homes and staff, approximately one million people

March: 14 million people considered "at risk". This includes those over 75, then over 65s, then over 50s and also health professionals

Spring 2021: The rest of the population

Mr Véran said that health advisory body Haute Autorité de Santé's five-step proposal forms the basis of the government's plan. 

'Brexit not an advantage in vaccine roll-out'

European affairs minister Clément Beaune denied that the UK, which is planning to roll-out a vaccine next week, had an advantage due to Brexit.

The UK is "entirely subject to the European framework until December 31", but "it has opted for certain accelerated procedures", he said. 

France, meanwhile, has opted to work with the 26 other EU member states and has "opted for collective action, speed and security".

"It is a Europe of health that is gradually and rapidly being established," he said.


The prime minister also recommended that a maximum of six adults (children not included) gather to eat a Christmas meal together.

He said this number takes into consideration the recommendations put in place by other European countries.

Read more:

Covid vaccine more effective for women, say French experts

Covid anti-vax sentiment rises above 50% in France

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