France will ensure free Covid-19 vaccinations for all who are in its social security system and has earmarked 1.5 billion euros of next year’s social security budget to cover the cost, said Prime Minister Jean Castex on Thursday.
Castex said the vaccination campaign would begin in a matter of weeks, pending regulatory approval by the European Medicines Agency. The inoculation programme would be staggered over three categories of people, he said, commencing with the most vulnerable in nursing homes.
“The vaccination will be free for all,” said Castex at a press conference.
France has ordered some 200 million doses from different pharmaceutical companies developing vaccines, said Castex, enough to inoculate 100 million people – more than France’s population.
The Covid-19 vaccination will be voluntary in France. The Prime Minister assured citizens the approved vaccines would be safe.
“The remarkable mobilisation worldwide has allowed the rapid development of vaccines. However, this timeframe in no way means that we have compromised safety,” he said.
According to a poll by Ipsos for the World Economic Forum, only 59% of French respondents said they would get a Covid-19 vaccine if it became available, compared with 67% in the United States and 85% in Britain.
Even after the trials, several months would be needed to know if a vaccine was successful in halting transmission.