Vaccine-wary France to immunise 1 million people by end of January

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France is seeking to vaccinate a million people before the end of January as the government accelerates its Covid-19 inoculation drive in a country where most people are sceptical of the jab.

Prime Minister Jean Castex and Health Minister Olivier Véran laid out further details of a “simplified” vaccination strategy during a detailed press conference Thursday, during which curfew measures were tightened in a further 10 departments.

"We are doing everything we can to enable you to be vaccinated under good conditions," Véran said, telling the French they could have confidence in the drug.

"The vaccine is safe, serious adverse effects are extremely rare."

Slow start

France has been criticised for a limping start to its vaccination campaign, which has picked up speed with 45,000 people receiving the shot over the last five days.

"One centre per department has already been opened … so 100 for the country,” Castex said. "From next Monday there will be 300 centres, then gradually we’ll have 600 by the end of January.”

With people in nursing homes and frontline healthcare workers prioritised, anyone over the age of 75 will now be able to get vaccinated from 18 January with online reservations made as of 14 January.

As of Friday, an 8pm nighttime curfew has been brought forward to 6pm in the following departments: Haut-Rhin, Bas-Rhin, Côte d'Or, Yonne, Cher, Allier, Haute-Savoie, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, Vaucluse and Bouches-du-Rhône.

Meanwhile bars and restaurants will not be allowed to reopen until at least mid-February.