AstraZeneca shot draws long queue of volunteers in France

AstraZeneca shot draws long queue of volunteers in France

About 1.4 million French residents have signed up to a waiting list to receive a shot of AstraZeneca at a pharmacy, a survey released this week showed as the country promotes the use of the vaccine, which has encountered popular skepticism widespread in European countries.

Only people over the age of 55 are eligible for the waiting list, while those over the age of 75, or with health issues that make them more vulnerable, will head the queue, said a spokesperson for the French Ministry of Health.

The opening of the waiting list is not immediately clear, but this is the first time that the French National Union of Pharmacies (Uspo) has conducted a survey of pharmacists and published the results.

The question of whether a waiting list allowing volunteers to take the slots of others who do not show up for a vaccination appointment has also been raised in Luxembourg, where the deployment of vaccines is one of the slowest from Europe.

But Health Minister Paulette Lenert said such plans did not yet exist.

“That wouldn’t be an answer to the problem because the problem is the amount of vaccine,” Lenert told the Luxembourg Times two weeks ago. The ministry sets up more appointments than there are vaccines available, and “it might be worth thinking about it later,” Lenert said.

Pharmacies can only administer AstraZeneca vaccine because it does not need to be stored at ultra-low temperatures, unlike Pfizer-BioNtech and Moderna jabs.

The adoption of AstraZeneca in France is low, as only 55% of the available doses have been distributed, while the corresponding figures for the Pfizer-BioNtech and Moderna jabs are 89% and 93% respectively, according to data from the European Center disease prevention and control. (ECDC) show. In Luxembourg, only one in three AstraZeneca vaccines available has been administered.

Confidence in the Astrazeneca vaccine has fallen sharply in France, as elsewhere in Europe, after governments temporarily suspended it, 61% deeming it “dangerous” versus 23% deeming it “safe”, compared to 43% and 33% respectively , according to a YouGov poll released on Monday.

This week’s Uspo poll showed that 67% of pharmacies reported cases of patients rejecting it. France was one of the countries alongside Luxembourg and Germany that ended the use of Astrazeneca over fears it could cause blood to clot. She resumed distribution of the drug after the European Medicines Agency found no link to an increased risk of thrombosis.

Even before that, French President Emmanuel Macron had called Astrazeneca “near ineffective” in people over 65 and initially limited its use to younger people, citing a lack of test data for older groups. Currently, however, the jab is only available in France for people over the age of 55.

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