Vacations in mind, younger French people rush for vaccines

A medical worker administers a dose of the "Comirnaty" Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in a vaccination center in Paris as part of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccination campaign in France

Clement Bosko, a 31-year-old Frenchman who works in train maintenance, this week scored a lucky ticket: an appointment to get a COVID-19 vaccination.

“I want to go on holiday this summer, so I said to myself: ‘I’ll get myself vaccinated as soon as possible,'” he said on Friday after receiving his shot at a velodrome west of Paris that had been converted to a vaccination centre.

“That way, I’ll know everything’s in place, and if they introduce a health pass to go abroad, or whatever, I’ll be all sorted,” he said.

Until now, France’s vaccination programme has focussed on people over 50 or with underlying health conditions. But this week it was changed so anyone over 18 can book themselves for a shot — provided they can find a free slot.

That requires hitting refresh on online appointment booking websites, in the hope a free slot comes up, or waiting outside a vaccination centre.

While many of the people previously showing up for vaccinations cited health concerns as their reason for getting inoculated, many of the new, younger cohort, are focused on re-launching their social lives, according to interviews with people at vaccination centres.

“I’m going on holiday and I thought: ‘If I can get vaccinated before I go, that will be good’,” said Paul De Beon, 25, who was at a vaccination centre in south-west Paris.

“It’s to get back to normal life,” he said. “I’m fed up with all these restrictions.”

At the start of France’s vaccination campaign, opinion polls showed many people were reluctant to get the shot, partly because of concerns about rare side effects.

But opening up the vaccines to younger people has unlocked a surge in demand, said Tristan Eybert, who managers the velodrome vaccine centre.

“We’ve noticed the people coming got a lot younger this week,” he said. “We’re feeling an enthusiasm for the vaccine.”

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