FOCUS – The expansion of the vaccination booster campaign to the entire population poses a new challenge, at a time when many vaccination centers have closed. Stocks will also be heavily used.
Faced with the epidemic resumption, Olivier Véran announced, Thursday, November 25, the expansion of the vaccine booster campaign to all adults over 18 years old from Saturday. But does France have the means? Until now, the third dose of vaccine has been reserved for people over 65 and people with co-morbidities. Offering it to the entire eligible adult population implies an acceleration of injections, at a time when many vaccination centers are now closed.
One thing is certain, the executive is confident on the issue of stocks. “There will be enough doses for everyone”, assured Olivier Véran. “There is absolutely no risk of missing doses in the next few weeks to achieve the boosters.», Hammered his teams, mid-November. The figures seem to prove them right: taking into account only the stocks of Moderna and Pfizer, 28.56 million doses sleep warm in logistics platforms and pivot health establishments. Enough to largely ensure the reminders of some 19 million people to receive their additional dose, and continue the vaccination schedules of others in parallel: 40,000 second doses and 22,000 first doses only are administered each day, on average, at the moment.
For example, as of November 18, there were more than 1.1 million doses of messenger RNA vaccines in pivotal health establishments in Île-de-France, 760,000 in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, 608,000 in Occitanie and 635,000 in Hauts-de-France. To these figures are also added other stocks. Enough to allow every Frenchman who wishes to receive his injections.
In addition, in the longer term, France expects deliveries which should prevent any risk of shortage. In November, the Ministry of Health expects 24 million doses received, against 16 million in October. More than 60 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine are expected between December 2021 and early July 2022, according to the Department of Health. If the French flock to vaccination appointments, one-off and targeted shortages could therefore occur, but, nationally, the authorities remain confident.
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One third of vaccination centers closed
How to organize this recall campaign remains to be seen. Vaccination centers have since the summer closed as quickly as they had been opened. To date, there are nearly 1,000 vaccination centers, compared to 1,400 at the end of August, and 1,600 at the end of May. The government planned to rely more on city medicine, while the Pfizer vaccine became available in pharmacies on October 1. The City of Paris announced a month ago the closure of 15 vaccination centers out of the 28 it had. “The offer is evolving and adapting to the current challenges of vaccination: the administration of the booster dose for those who are eligible for it, and the need to precisely target those who remain to be vaccinated», Explained the Paris Police Prefecture in a press release published on October 26, co-written with the Ile-de-France Regional Health Agency.
In September, two scenarios were on the table: either the Liberals managed to vaccinate 750,000 injections per week, and the centers were to gradually close by the beginning of November, or the injections reached a ceiling and the centers remained open until March. .
Finally, the government plans to reopen the vaccination centers, assured Olivier Véran. “With the increase in injections linked to the vaccination booster, that can lead vaccination centers which had closed – or which had reduced the wing – to resume an activity”, had indicated Gabriel Attal on LCI on November 18. Vaccination centers “Have shown all their effectiveness, they are identified”, and “the French know them, they know where to go ”, continued the government spokesperson.
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Absorb a sudden acceleration
Decisions will be taken locally, in consultation between the cities and the regional health agencies. “At the level of each territory and local communities, mayors also know what the needs of their population are, whether there is a need to strengthen a vaccination center or to reopen», Indicated Gabriel Attal.
“It made sense that vaccination would come back to city medicine as long as it was a progressive vaccination. Vaccinodromes are cumbersome organizations, which require rooms that are not dedicated to this, and health personnel who are mobilized on activities other than their usual work ”, concedes Jacques Battistoni, president of the MG France union. But today, the practitioner calls for the reopening of these vaccinodromes. “If we suddenly accelerate the recall campaign, as after the announcements of the President of the Republic on July 12, we will need the flexibility of the vaccination centers which are able to rapidly increase their capacities,” he nuances. This is not the case for city doctors, busy with their consultation activity, or pharmacists, with the sale of drugs.“