France is racing to counter a resurgence of COVID-19 infections fueled by more infectious various with its nationwide vaccination rollout. However, there are fears that a shortfall in doses may throw a spanner into the government’s plans.
When launching its vaccination campaign on Dec 27 as part of a coordinated European plan, France opted for a gradual and free rollout, prioritizing elderly and vulnerable people to avoid a surge in serious cases and deaths.
However, due to the shortage of vaccines, cities like Saint-Denis in the region of Ile-de-France, which has about 7,000 people over the age of 75 from its total 115,000 population and belong to the highly susceptible group of the virus, is facing difficulty on completing its scheduled vaccination plan.
At the current stage, each of the city’s two vaccination centers can only provide 30 doses per day for its residents.
“There were 258 people who received the vaccines in the past two weeks. The proportion of the 7,000 people over the age of 75 who have been vaccinated is still very small. At this pace, it may take several months for the vaccination work to be completed. Therefore, we have to speed up. We are ready to provide up to four to five times of the current vaccination number, and our staff are on standby anytime. The only problem now is we have to get the shots in place as soon as possible,” said Kety Bontinck, deputy mayor of the city.
The Ministry of Health said that 1,234,730 injections had been carried out as of Jan 27 since the start of the vaccination campaign, accounting for 1.83 percent of the country’s population.
Up to 45,000 people are set to have the first shot by the end of the first week in February, then the campaign will extend to nearly 75,000 in the second week.
According to French health authorities, the vaccine shortage will have eased by mid-to-late February.
“We hope to double or even triple the speed of vaccinations by mid-to-later February. After that, the ideal scenario would be, according to the statement by the health authorities, to vaccinate all people in this spring. This is our hope, because it’s a good thing that more Saint-Denis residents wish to get vaccinated as soon as possible. We also encourage our residents to put faith in the vaccines,” said Bontinck.
Several residents who received the shots said they were satisfied with the vaccination process.
“I’m very happy to get the vaccine. Everyone is so warm and friendly here. They make me feel pleasant,” said 96-year-old Saint-Denis resident Raymonde.
“I’ve finished my vaccination. Now I’m having a 15 minutes rest here. So far I feel very good and happy. I have a very nice reception as well,” said Monique, an 82-year-old resident.
As the world is struggling to contain the pandemic, vaccination is underway in some countries with the already-authorized coronavirus vaccines.
Meanwhile, 236 candidate vaccines are still being developed worldwide — 63 of them in clinical trials — in countries including Germany, China, Russia, Britain and the United States, according to information released by the World Health Organization on Jan. 26.