Faced with the resumption of the Covid-19 epidemic, the government has decided to bring forward, like other European countries, its new vaccination campaign, which opens this Monday, October 2. It will be targeted at the populations most at risk, with new vaccines, but open to all those who wish.
“The virus is circulating, each of us can see cases around us. The epidemic is here,” Minister of Health Aurélien Rousseau declared to AFP in mid-September to justify this decision to finally accelerate the system, when it was to be triggered in mid-October, at the same time as flu vaccination.
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Vaccination mainly targets those over 65, fragile people, people with comorbidities or immunocompromised people, pregnant women, nursing home residents or people in contact with vulnerable people.
Any other person wishing a booster will, however, be able to claim it free of charge, provided they respect a deadline of six months after their last injection or Covid-19 infection.
This vaccination can be carried out in town by appointment, by a doctor or in a pharmacy. It can also be carried out by a nurse, a midwife, or even a dental surgeon. Only one dose is necessary, explains Health Insurance. It is completely free, “100% covered by Health Insurance”.
For this new campaign, messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines, adapted to the very widespread XXB.1.5 variant (Omicron sub-variant), are recommended as first line, regardless of the vaccine previously administered. They should be more effective against the different variants currently circulating the most, in particular EG.5.1.
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) recommended in June that vaccines be updated to target the XBB strain of the virus, currently in circulation.
Since the beginning of September, the monovalent Comirnaty omicron XBB.1.5 vaccine from Pfizer/BioNTech has been available. The manufacturer has planned more than 10 million doses, he told AFP. For its part, the Moderna laboratory only recently obtained authorization from the EMA for its new vaccine, but assures “that it is ready to supply it in France for the (...) autumn campaign”.
For people who do not want or cannot benefit from mRNA vaccines, it is possible to use VidPrevtyn Beta from Sanofi and Nuvaxovid from Novavax as a booster. The latter, adapted to XBB.1.5, is however only expected for November.
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In France, the virus surveillance system, considerably simplified, is currently close to that of the flu. In this context, it is difficult to follow its circulation with finesse. There is, however, no doubt about the rebound of the epidemic, confirmed by the few indicators still available.
Thus, according to the Sentinels network – made up of doctors and pediatricians reporting health data – last week, the incidence of Covid-19 cases presenting respiratory signs “continued the marked increase observed since mid-August”.
Faced with this situation, the government requested the opinion of the Committee for Monitoring and Anticipation of Health Risks (Covars), which recommended in mid-September “access to the vaccine booster as soon as possible”.
Alongside vaccination, health authorities continue to recommend barrier gestures, mainly in the event of infection. But this message seems less heard, three and a half years after the start of the epidemic.