France will open 35 large vaccination centers in the coming days to accelerate the rate of inoculations, according to a minister of the government of Emmanuel Macron, who is criticized for the slowness of the campaign.
“We are working with local representatives to get them started,” Industry Minister Agnès Pannier-Runacher told the BFMTV channel.
Initially, France had refused to create these centers to dispense vaccines in large quantities after the failure of the vaccine fields it set up during the H1N1 swine flu pandemic in 2009.
Until now, vaccines were dispensed in nursing homes, hospitals, doctors’ offices and pharmacies. However, Health Minister Olivier Véran announced that France will follow the example of countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom, which have converted stadiums into vaccination centers.
“The army health service will work on developing a number of large vaccination centers,” he said, adding that there would be at least 35 throughout the country.
After a slow start in late December and January, France’s vaccination campaign has accelerated. But with the rapid spread of the most infectious variants of COVID-19, the number of cases has risen again, prompting the government to put part of the country, including Paris, under partial lockdown.
The president of France, Emmanuel Macron, urged today to vaccinate “morning, noon and night” to defeat COVID-19 and assured that the country is struggling to obtain the doses of vaccines that AstraZeneca owes it.
There are no weekends or holidays for the vaccination that is at the heart of the battle against the virus, Macron said, during a visit to a center in the city of Valenciennes.
The head of state assured that he is struggling to obtain doses and that France will continue to press extremely hard on the AstraZeneca laboratory to fulfill its contracts.
Vaccination with AstraZeneca, suspended in mid-March after suspicions of possible serious side effects, is gradually being resumed after receiving the green light from the European and French pharmaceutical authorities.
In France, the High Health Authority (HAS) however recommended reserving the AstraZeneca vaccine for people 55 years and older.