In December, Institut Montaigne published a policy paper in French, in which the authors outlined the different options for France’s Covid-19 vaccination strategy, as well as the actors that needed to be mobilized in order for it to be successful. However, France is now trailing behind other countries in vaccination efforts: on January 7, only 45,500 people had been vaccinated in France, whereas Germany had already inoculated 500,000 people and Italy, 680,000. What practical examples could provide France with some much-needed inspiration?
The vaccination campaign in France: strategy and results so far
The French vaccination campaign started on December 28, 2020. It has been divided into three phases, due to run until late 2021. The target for January and February 2021 is to inoculate 1 million people, starting with all those living in retirement homes and the health professionals who care for them. The campaign is then supposed to shift to those over 75 years old and then to those over 65, to health professionals over 50 and to those who have prior health conditions, which make up another 14 million people. It is only in the spring that the rest of the population will become eligible for vaccination.
Vaccination has not been made compulsory in France and is only possible after a prior medical examination consented to by the patient, in which a clinical evaluation is conducted, and the patient informed of the advantages and risks of the vaccine. France is one of the only countries to have implemented medical examinations prior to vaccination, which in part explains the delays, according to doctors.
President Emmanuel Macron has made his impatience quite clear, stating that the strategy was not "up to the task". In response, Health Minister Olivier Véran announced on January 5 that the vaccination calendar would pick up speed and "match that of our neighbors in the next few days", provided that this target is still within reach. He also announced that access to the vaccine would be extended to doctors, firefighters, and home care staff over 50, and by the end of January, to people aged 75 or more who live outside retirement homes. All French citizens wanting to receive the shot will also soon be able to "register" for vaccination online, over the phone or through the national Covid-19 response application TousAntiCovid.