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- French physician
While France is heavily encouraging the vaccination of children to stem the spread of the Covid Omicron variant, it has tightened its rules for vaccinating kids aged 5-11 – a move that France's vaccine strategy body says is unfortunate.
When France made vaccination against Covid-19 available to children under 11 shortly before Christmas, the jab required the consent of just one parent.
On Thursday, under the instructions of the Council of State – France's highest court – the Ministry of Health announced that the written consent of both parents would now be needed, although only one parent has to be present during the medical act.
The president of France's vaccine strategy council, Professor Alain Fischer, regrets the government's decision.
"I think it's a bit unfortunate, it's an obstacle which further dramatises the notion of vaccination," he told LCI channel on Friday.
"We have data on millions of vaccinated children" in Israel and the US, and "the adverse effects are weaker among adolescents than adults," Fischer said.
He pointed out that "around 300 children under the age of 10 were in hospital in France," adding "we know that vaccination prevents complications and long Covid".
Vaccine take up among 5-11 year olds has been slow to take off since it was introduced. Some 80,000 to 90,000 children received a jab so far, the equivalent of just over 1 percent of those eligible, Fischer said.
The consent of just one parent is still enough for children aged 12 to 15 to get vaccinated, while the over 16s need no parental consent.
Peak nearly reached
The rapid circulation of the Omicron variant has led to the closure of more than 9,000 classes in France.
Professor Fischer said he believed this new wave of Covid-19 was reaching its peak. It could come "primarily towards the beginning of the second fortnight of January, so if we work it out this would be in around 10 days time".
France reported 261,481 new coronavirus infections on Thursday, less than the record of more than 332,000 set on Wednesday, but the seven-day moving average of new cases rose above 200,000 for the first time since the start of the health crisis.
The French health ministry also reported 204 new deaths, taking the total tally to over 125,000.