Reader question: Your article of September 21 mentions three new vaccines adapted to the Omicron variant of Covid. I am 73 so eligible for this as well as the flu jab. You quote the Health Ministry as saying the proposed campaign commencement date is October 18. What does one do to obtain the injection?
Our reader is referring to our article: France approves three vaccines adapted to Covid Omicron subvariants.
It is certainly the case that France intends to offer newly-adapted Covid vaccines that target the Omicron variant to people who are more at risk of serious forms of the disease.
France’s health service quality regulator the Haute autorité de Santé (HAS) originally recommended that the rollout should begin on October 18, at the same time as the seasonal flu jab campaign.
However French Health Minister François Braun has now pushed this forward to October 3 as the number of Covid cases is rising.
The government intends to offer these modified vaccines to a targeted group, including people aged 60 or over and people under 60 who are at high risk, such as those with underlying conditions, immunosuppressed people, children and teenagers at high risk, and pregnant women. Their immediate contacts will also be encouraged to get vaccinated.
So far, no further details have been given on how this rollout will work and it is not known if those eligible for the new Omicron-targeted booster dose will receive a letter or an invitation through the Tous Anti Covid app.
It is also unclear if there are sufficient supplies for all those in the target groups to be given the ‘adapted’ vaccines immediately from October 3, though when going for an appointment you may wish to check if this is the case.
Fuller details are likely to emerge in the coming days.
One scenario is that people in the target categories who book a booster dose will automatically be offered these new Omicron-targeted vaccines. The new vaccines are not for ‘first round’ jabs.
Another scenario is that people who receive a flu vaccination voucher in the post from October 18 will be able to ask for this Covid booster jab when they go to the pharmacy to pick up their free flu jab dose.
Alternatively, in the case that you do not want a flu jab or for any other reason, it is likely that you will be able to book an appointment for a Covid booster through your GP or at a vaccination centre. You can reserve an appointment via websites such as Doctolib or ViteMaDose.
Most pharmacies around France now offer Covid jabs so stocks of the new Omicron-targeted vaccines are also expected to be available there soon.
How to get a flu jab in France
In France, the flu jab is 100% reimbursed for people over 65 and people at risk. It is available to everyone else, but they must pay a certain amount.
Who can be vaccinated free of charge?
- People aged 65 and over
- People suffering from certain chronic diseases (asthma, diabetes, etc. a full list can be found here, in French).
- Pregnant women
- Obese people with a Body Mass Index over 40
- People in regular contact with children under six months old
- Immuno-compromised people
- Carers or people in regular contact with people at risk of severe flu
- Health workers
How this works
If you fall under one of these categories you should receive a vaccination voucher in the post from the French state health insurance service Assurance Maladie.
If you do not receive this voucher and you fall under one of these categories, you can go to your doctor or a pharmacy for the voucher.
This enables you to get a free dose of the vaccine which can be collected from a pharmacy.
You can have the dose administered by your doctor; a midwife (for pregnant women and a newborn’s entourage); a nurse, and/or for adults by certain trained pharmacists.
It is now also possible at certain pharmacies with staff trained to give the jab.