Paris, 5 December 2020 (dpa/MIA) — The French government plans to make the vaccine for the novel coronavirus available to everyone free of charge, the prime minister said as he presented the nation’s vaccine strategy.
“We can begin vaccinations within a matter of weeks,” Prime Minister Jean Castex said, adding that 1 million people who are particularly at risk — such as elderly people in care homes — would be vaccinated starting in January.
France will have more than around 200 million doses of the vaccine, allowing 100 million people to be vaccinated, Castex said.
Alain Fischer, an immunologist, is to oversee France’s vaccination roll-out.
French President Emmanuel Macron said previously that the vaccination would not be mandatory.
The vaccine is not likely to change the course of the pandemic in the months ahead, according to French Health Minister Olivier Veran, although it will help reduce the number of deaths and severe cases.
Veran said transparency was important and that families would be consulted before relatives received the vaccine in care homes, for example.
Castex also said the situation was improving but that caution was still needed. “We have not yet defeated this virus,” he said.
He suggested capping the number of people permitted to celebrate at Christmas at six per household, not counting children.
The restrictions currently in place are due to remain in force until mid-December, and are then due to be replaced by night-time curfews.
People will be allowed to move more freely over the holidays, with the curfews suspended on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, the government has said.
The number of new cases per day has fallen in France, and has at times even dropped below 5,000.