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France to start coronavirus vaccination on Sunday, health minister says

France to start coronavirus vaccination on Sunday, health minister says
Authorities in France plan to start the Covid-19 vaccination program next Sunday, Health Minister Olivier Veran said as Europe’s medicines regulator is expected to assess the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine on Monday.

“On Sunday, we will start to vaccinate [people] in France. The most vulnerable among us first of all, after medical examination, information and consent,” Veran tweeted on Monday. “A smooth start, mindful of everyone’s safety and respectful of our ethical commitments.”

The medicines regulator, the European Medicines Agency (EMA), is expected to announce the results of its assessment of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine on Monday.

If the EMA gives it clearance, the European Commission should approve the start of vaccination campaigns.

European Union member states plan to begin vaccinations from December 27, as officials in Brussels hope to reach coverage of 70 percent of the EU’s 450 million population.

In France, the epidemic situation is fragile as the virus is circulating and the pressure on the health system remains high, Veran said. “The 2nd wave is not yet behind us,” the minister warned.

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PM Jean Castex said on December 16 that the French will be offered the vaccine developed by Pfizer/BioNTech in the last week of December if EU authorities approve it. The vaccine campaign would then be stepped up in January, he told parliament. He also confirmed that the elderly and other more vulnerable groups will be first to receive the jab.

Authorities plan to vaccinate around one million people in nursing homes during January and February, and to administer jabs to 14-15 million people between March and June.

However, a survey conducted by Ifop in December showed the number of French who say they don’t want the vaccination has risen to 61 percent, from 46 percent who said that at the end of October.

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