France launches COVID-19 recall campaign for the elderly
PARIS (AP) – France on Wednesday began giving COVID-19 vaccine boosters to people over 65 and those with underlying health conditions to boost their vaccine protection, while the highly contagious delta variant is spreading throughout the country.
People can get vaccinated as long as a minimum of six months has passed since they were fully vaccinated with the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.
Those who have received the single dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine may be boosted by Pfizer or Moderna at least four weeks after being vaccinated for the first time.
In nursing homes, a nationwide recall campaign is set to begin September 12.
It is estimated that around 18 million people are eligible for the booster, according to the Department of Health.
The French government has followed the recommendations of the country’s health authority, HAS, which said last month that “recent studies suggest a decrease in the effectiveness of the vaccine, especially with the delta variant”. The elderly and those with underlying health conditions are the most affected by the decline over time, HAS said.
The booster was already available in France for some particularly vulnerable people, such as transplant recipients and others with weakened immune systems.
The French government has so far made no decision regarding the potential extension of the campaign to the entire population.
France has faced a high number of confirmed infections since July, with a slight drop in recent weeks – from more than 23,000 a day by mid-August to 17,000 now. But many fear a trend reversal as the children return to school on Thursday after summer vacation.
Nearly 44 million people, or 65.6% of the French population, are fully vaccinated.
France’s decision to launch its recall campaign comes as the European Medicines Agency has said it is reviewing the data to see if booster injections are needed.
In Germany, authorities in the capital Berlin on Wednesday began offering booster injections to residents of nursing homes. Several other German states have already started offering boosters to vulnerable people.
Israel this week expanded its coronavirus recall program to include anyone over 12 – the latest phase of a recall program that began in July with Israelis over 60.
US health officials last month announced plans to distribute reminders to all Americans. The campaign is expected to start at the end of September.
The head of the European branch of the World Health Organization, Dr Hans Kluge, said this week that he agreed with America’s top infectious disease expert that a third dose of coronavirus vaccines can help protect the most vulnerable, and this should not be seen as a ‘luxury booster’.
Follow all of AP’s stories about the pandemic at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic.