Macron Says France to Expand Vaccination to 70-75 Year-Olds

From Saturday, French people from 70 to 75 years old will be able to get vaccinated against Covid even if they don’t have pre-conditions, President Emmanuel Macron said on Tuesday.

During a visit to a vaccination center in Valenciennes, Northern France, which is among the areas subjected to a lockdown since Saturday, Macron sought to showcase the inoculation campaign.

“There’s no holiday, there’s no weekend for vaccination,” Macron, who has been criticized for a slow vaccine rollout, said. He pledged that medical students, firemen, nurses and retired doctors could give the jab. “There is no truce.”

Like other government leaders, the French president is counting on vaccines to relieve pressure on hospital systems and eventually lift restrictions on travels and business. Paris and other regions have been under a new lockdown since Saturday, although the government is encouraging open-air activities and more businesses are open than during previous confinements.

The French leader vowed to keep pressure on AstraZeneca Plc, which he said “is “slightly below its commitments to us” with orders promised that weren’t delivered. “The next few days will be a fight to try and obtain them and keep pressure so that contracts are respected,” he added, referring to the upcoming European Union council meeting. The bloc is considering trying to stop vaccines being exported from Europe to the U.K.

Macron said the priority was to immunize most vulnerable people and seniors “to relieve pressure on the hospital system,” according to a pool report. So far, the vaccination was open only to people over 75, patients with preconditions or medical staff, but the number of people above 75 in intensive care has dropped, highlighting the need to expand eligibility to the vaccination campaign.

Around 9% of French people have received at least one vaccine jab. The government aims to have immunized 10 million people by mid-April, 20 million in mid-May and 30 million mid-June -- slightly less than half of the total population.

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