France targets January for Covid-19 vaccination campaign launch

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The French government has said it is aiming to kick off a nationwide Covid-19 vaccination campaign in January, if the vaccine is approved by the European Medicines Agency.

After US biotech Moderna on Monday became the second company in a week to announce a very high success rate in preventing Covid-19, France health authorities said they would be "immediately" ready to launch a massive vaccination drive.

"We're preparing a campaign to be ready for launch the moment a vaccine is approved by European and national health authorities," government spokesman Gabriel Attal told France 2 television on Monday.

Noting that the European Medicines Agency said it may be ready to authorise a first vaccine by the end of the year, Attal said France had placed options on "several hundred million" doses from different pharma companies and was preparing to vaccinate against Covid-19 as early as January.

France has budgeted 1.5 billion euros to buy vaccines in 2021, Attal added.

The final choice will be for the vaccine "that gives us the best chance to contain the pandemic" without presenting "even the slightest risk" for health, he said.

The growing vaccine skepticism in France could, however, confound a public health campaign on immunisation.

Only 59 percent of French people are willing to get vaccinated, according to an opinion poll published in September, compared with 74 percent worldwide.

"My fear is that not enough French people will get vaccinated," Prime Minister Jean Castex said at the weekend.