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Record 1.2m appointments made for boosters as rules change in France

Booking website Doctolib saw a record number of vaccine appointments confirmed yesterday after the health minister announced booster jabs for everyone aged 18 or over

Wait times of more than 30 minutes were reported on Doctolib yesterday, and are still at 20 minutes today, after a record 1.2 million appointments were booked Pic: Davide Bonaldo / Shutterstock

A record 1.2 million appointments for Covid vaccinations were made on the online booking website Doctolib yesterday (November 25), as the government announced booster jabs for everyone aged 18 or over.

At the time of Health Minister Olivier Véran’s press conference at 13:16, which was followed live by news organisations and social media, waiting times to book an appointment online rose to more than 30 minutes.

Read more: Masks, tests, boosters: new Covid rules to fight fifth wave in France 

The long queues appeared to abate slightly at 18:00, but the website then showed that there were no more vaccination slots available to book.

The message many saw on their screen read: “No appointments are available but several slots will be put online in the coming days. You can also book at another vaccination centre.”

But by 21:00, waiting times had climbed to more than 30 minutes again. This morning, waiting times are still at 20 minutes.

Some Twitter users compared the experience of booking a jab to that of booking high-demand concert tickets on ticket booking site Ticketmaster.

Booster jabs (in addition to the first and second) are now required for eligible people aged 18 to 64 who want to maintain the use of their health pass after January 15. (The date remains December 15 for people aged 65 and over.)

After that date, health passes will gradually expire for people who have not had a booster jab (or a confirmed case of Covid) by seven months after their last injection.

Non-vaccinated people will be required to show a negative PCR test from within the past 24 hours.

Booster doses are set to become available for everyone aged 18 or above from tomorrow (Saturday, November 27).

Read more: Covid France: Are you eligible for a booster dose from November 27?

A spokesperson for Doctolib told Le Figaro: "The waiting list system is set up to manage the peak of connections. In one and a half hours, 350,000 appointments have already been made. The slots are available as and when the centres are equipped. The record is therefore set to be broken again.”

But the platform was unable to give an average time in days before people may successfully book a slot. 

"People make appointments for after five months according to their second dose. So they can block slots very early, which doesn't allow for a reliable reading.”

However, Mr Véran urged people “not to panic”, and said that appointments would be available soon.

More than 25 million people in France are now eligible for a booster jab, with 6 million having already had one by November 22 (9% of the population).

Related articles

Why is France facing fifth Covid wave with 75% population vaccinated?
Masks, tests, boosters: new Covid rules to fight fifth wave in France

Covid France: Are you eligible for a booster dose from November 27?

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