France to start Covid vaccine boosters mid-September, despite no EU approval

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France’s Covid vaccine booster campaign for those living in care homes will start mid-September, even though a third jab has not yet been approved by the European drugs regulator.

People living in care homes for the elderly, calle Ehpads, or or long-term care facilities, as well as those over 80-yeas-old living at home, will be eligible for a third Covid vaccine on 13 September, French Prime Minister Jean Castex announced Thursday, confirming statements this week that the boosters will be made available soon.

Appointments will open on 1 September for those 65-years-old and up, or with conditions making them more susceptible to severe cases of Covid, who will receive their third jabs along with the flu shot, when the campaign starts at the end of October.

A booster is necessary to protect the most vulnerable to the virus, said Castex, who pointed to statistics showing that with the vaccine, someone is “eight times less likely to get infected and 11 times less likely to end up in the hospital”.

EU calls for more data before approving boosters

The decision to administer a booster is based on advice by the French medical authority, the HAS, which said its recommendations are “conditional upon the validation of the booster by the European Medicines Agency”.

The EU drugs regulator has said that it needs more data before it can approve the use of boosters.

Including France, eight European countries have decided to offer a third jab, and others are discussing the matter.

On Thursday, the European Commission warned that those European countries that do decide to use the boosters may face increased legal risks in the case of unexpected side effects that can be linked to the jabs.

It said that member states could be on the line for any legal consequences and demands for compensation, though the drug companies would still be liable for side effects caused by manufacturing issues.

The EU has a reserve of billions of doses of several vaccines to be used as boosters in the coming years, or to be donated to poorer countries.

The World Health Organization has called on developed countries to hold off on administering boosters until developing countries have had their first doses.

(with wires)

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