France will make Covid-19 booster jabs available to all adults and reduce the gap from the last jab to five months, Health Minister Olivier Véran announced on Wednesday, ruling out curfews and lockdowns to curb a fifth wave of infections.
“We still have fate in our hands,” Véran told a press conference in Paris, though warning that the fifth wave of infections “will be longer and tougher” than the fourth.
The health minister said booster jabs would be available to all people aged 18 or above “as of Saturday”, adding that France had sufficient supplies of vaccines.
From January 15, Véran added, booster shots will become a requirement for a valid health pass, which is required in France to enter restaurants, cafés, cinemas and museums, among other public venues.
The minister said health regulators will examine whether or not children aged five to 11 should have the Covid-19 vaccine, though adding that no decision will be made before 2022.
Earlier, France’s main health regulator, the Haute Autorité de Santé (HAS), said it was backing booster Covid-19 vaccination shots for adults, and that the interim period between full vaccination and the booster shots should be shortened to five months instead of six.
HAS mentioned a renewed spread of the coronavirus that was “stronger than anticipated”, and that the ‘R’ reproduction rate of 1.35 indicated “exponential growth” of infections.
On Wednesday, health authorities reported over 30,000 new infections for a second day in a row, a sequence unseen since the end of April.
The seven-day moving average of daily new cases – which evens out reporting irregularities – stands at a three-month high of 21,761 and has almost quadrupled in a month.
The number of people treated in intensive care for Covid-19 is nearly 1,500, a figure last seen at the end of September.
(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS)