President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday (March 23) sought to bring more urgency into France’s vaccination campaign while visiting a vaccination centre in the north.
France and its neighbours are suffering a third wave of infections that threatens recovery in Europe’s largest economies.
Hospitals could face an “unprecedented shock” within three weeks as infections explode, said the head of France’s hospital federation as he urged tougher curbs on social interaction if the spread did not slow soon.
New COVID restrictions that closed non-essential stores and limited how far people can move came into effect in Paris and much of the north last weekend, but Macron stopped short of a full lockdown.
The president later said he hoped there would be targeted campaigns for certain professions, such as teachers, by April or May and that in a race against time public holidays should be no barrier to delivering vaccine injections.
From Saturday, people over 70 will be able to get inoculated. Previously, the government had slated opening up vaccine slots for the age-group in mid April. Vaccinations are currently available for over-75s and anyone over 50 with a serious pre-existing condition.
France’s faltering campaign has been slowed by bureaucracy and public mistrust of vaccines at home, and Europe-wide supply delays, in particular from AstraZeneca.
Nearly a third of French people entered a month-long lockdown last weekend with many expressing fatigue and confusion over the latest set of restrictions aimed at containing the spread of the highly contagious coronavirus.