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France targets vaccine roll-out to wider public from April

President Macron is aiming for a spring campaign for the wider public, insisting the jab will not be mandatory. It comes as the UK announces plans to roll-out a vaccine from next week

President Emmanuel Macron is hoping to run a mass vaccination campaign against Covid-19, beginning between April and June, 2021. This will follow a more specific campaign targeting the most vulnerable people.

The president made the announcement on Tuesday, December 1, at a press briefing alongside Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo. 

He said he foresees an initial, very specific vaccination campaign with first-generation vaccines at the start of 2021, followed by a second phase of vaccinations that will begin somewhere between April to June. 

Covid vaccine roll-out ready in France for January

This second phase will be wider and will move the country towards the strategy of vaccinating the greatest number of people possible. 

He reiterated that vaccinations against Covid will not be made mandatory, saying the strategy will be one of “conviction and transparency”. 

He said the first phase of vaccinations will take place “as soon as possible after approvals of the European health authorities, between the end of December and the beginning of January”. 

The Haute Autorité de Santé (HAS), a top health advisory body, has proposed a five-phase Covid-19 vaccination plan, with nursing home residents the first priority.

The HAS proposals are likely to strongly influence the government’s decisions.

Prime Minister Jean Castex has confirmed that elderly people residing in nursing homes will be vaccinated as a priority against Covid-19, in accordance with the recommendations of the HAS. He said that he will detail the government strategy from Thursday (December 3). 

See a graphic of the HAS’ five-phase vaccination plan at the end of the article.

UK plans vaccine roll-out from next week

The UK has become the first country in the world to approve the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine, which will allow it to start a mass vaccination campaign.

The first 800,000 doses will be available in the UK from next week, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said.

Pfizer/BioNTech announced on December 1 that they had submitted an application for conditional authorisation of their vaccine in the EU to the European Medicines Agency (EMA), saying they hope to distribute it by the end of the month.

If the vaccine is approved by the EMA, it could pave the way for a roll-out before the end of 2020.

The EMA has stated that it will hold a meeting on December 29 "at the latest" to give the go-ahead or not.

US company Moderna also applied to the EMA for approval for its vaccine on Tuesday, December 1. 

Read more about the Covid-19 vaccine in France

Covid anti-vax sentiment rises above 50% in France

Citizens to monitor France’s Covid-19 vaccine roll-out

Centre-left party in France: ‘No vaccine, no reimbursement’

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