• Friday, Oct 07, 2022
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France opens Covid jabs to over-12s in herd immunity drive

  • Published at 03:17 pm June 15th, 2021
France vaccination Covid
People wait following the injection of a dose of the 'Comirnaty' Pfizer BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine in a vaccination centre in Reze near Nantes as part of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) vaccination campaign in France, May 6, 2021 Reuters

In France, 58% of adults, have received at least one vaccine dose, but only 27.4% have received the two doses needed for maximum protection

France on Tuesday expanded its Covid-19 inoculation drive to children aged 12 and over in a bid to achieve herd immunity and slow the spread of variants, including the Delta strain behind a surge of cases in the United Kingdom.

The jabs are not compulsory for children and have no bearing on whether they can attend school or go on holiday in France.

But as demand for Covid vaccines slows among French adults the government is hoping that enough children will be willing to be immunized -- and that their parents will also approve -- to achieve the 80% population coverage that experts believe is needed to halt the spread of the virus.

France is also warily eyeing the spread of the Delta variant that has caused a spike in infections in the UK, despite more than 55% of adults there having had two vaccine jabs.

On Monday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson delayed the full lifting of coronavirus restrictions in England by a month over the sharp rise in cases.

In France, the Delta variant, which was first detected in India, represents two to 4% of new daily Covid infections, Health Minister Olivier Veran announced on Tuesday.

"That's maybe not a lot, but England was in the same situation until a few weeks ago," he warned during a visit on Tuesday to a vaccination centre in Paris.

In France, a little over 30 million people, 58% of adults, have received at least one vaccine dose, but only 27.4% have received the two injections needed for maximum protection.

After a slow start to the campaign in December, marked by a high degree of vaccine hesitancy, demand for first vaccine shots surged in April and May but has since begun to taper off.

The Institut Pasteur estimates that 80% of the entire population would need to be vaccinated in order for France to achieve herd immunity.

The pandemic has killed at least 3,829,257 people worldwide since the virus first emerged in December 2019, according to an AFP compilation of official data. 

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