'Macron effect' sees rush of people over 65 booking booster jabs

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French President Emmanuel Macron’s strategy of using health pass rules to stir up demand for Covid vaccinations appears to be working again after a record 149,000 people booked appointments for booster shots following his speech late Tuesday.

Anticipation of the tougher rules allowing people to eat in restaurants, access public and cultural venues, and travel on intercity trains had already seen 96,000 online bookings on Monday.

Altogether 274,000 appointments for booster shots have been made via the main website Doctolib in a rush that’s been dubbed “the Macron effect”.

In his speech, Macron announced that from 15 December people aged 65 and over would be required to have booster injections if they want to continue using their vaccine passes.

People aged 50 and over may also request a top up vaccine dose, without it being mandatory for the Covid health pass.

Fifth wave?

The pandemic has begun to intensify in many European countries, including France – where government spokesman Gabriel Attal said the number of infections, hospital admissions and people in intensive care had increased by about 40 percent.

Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin said more controls would be carried out to ensure that bars, restaurants, municipal facilities and other areas were ensuring health pass checks were being carried out on customers.

“Given the increase in the rate of infections, the fact winter is coming and that the virus is circulating more widely, the President has asked me to ensure prefects, police and gendarmes conduct stricter controls,” Darmanin told Europe 1 radio Wednesday.

France’s strict vaccination regime has pushed its overall vaccination rate to 75 percent.

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