France is expanding its vaccination campaign Monday to allow anyone over the age of 75 to be inoculated. Previously, only residents of nursing homes and medical staff aged 50 and over were eligible to receive a vaccine.
The new phase of the nationwide push comes as the country’s coronavirus death toll surpassed 70,000 over the weekend.
People over 75 were able to book appointments last week which caused the government’s website to crash due to high demand. Over one million appointments for the first and second dose of the vaccine were made, about half a million people, according to France’s Health Minister Olivier Veran.
Over the weekend, French officials sought to quell concerns over vaccine delivery delays after Pfizer said on Friday it was temporarily reducing shipments from a vaccine facility in Puurs, Belgium, in order to scale up manufacturing.
The company said that in order to increase capacity and produce two billion Covid-19 vaccine doses in 2021, changes were needed to the process and facility, and additional regulatory approvals will be required. France’s Europe Minister Clement Beaune told France Info Sunday he did not expect the Pfizer-Biontech vaccine delivery delays to seriously impact France as they have the stockpiles they need to continue their rollout as planned.
Meanwhile, the country has implemented a slew of new measures in recent days as it continues to battle the pandemic. On Monday, new travel restrictions went into effect for people moving from non-EU countries to France. Travelers now need to present a negative PCR test before arrival and self-isolate for seven days in the country.
On Saturday a nationwide curfew from 6pm-6am was imposed for at least 15 days in an effort to curb the spread of coronavirus. The curfew was already in place in some of the hardest-hit regions.
France has been criticized for its slow vaccine rollout. So far 422,000 people have been vaccinated, according to the country’s health ministry. The goal is to vaccinate 1 million people and have between 500 and 600 vaccination centers by the end of January.