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French health minister: Anyone who has had Covid only needs one vaccine dose

France's health minister has formalised the vaccine policy for people who have had and recovered from Covid, and announced that vaccine centres will be equipped with antibody tests to test everybody before they are vaccinated.

French health minister: Anyone who has had Covid only needs one vaccine dose
Photo: Fred Tanneau/AFP

It had previously been the recommendation that people who had been diagnosed with Covid only needed a single dose of the double-dose vaccines – Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca.

However, now vaccine centres in France will be equipped with the finger-prick antibody tests which can detect whether a person has ever had Covid.

These will be offered to all, so that people who have had Covid without realising it can be identified and will only need a single injection.

READ ALSO What to expect at your vaccine appointment (and what to do if you don’t have a carte vitale)

Dominique Le Guludec, president of the French medical regulator Haute Autorité de Santé, told RMC radio: “We propose, at the time of the first dose, the finger-prick test to see if you have antibodies to determine the need for a second dose.

“This can avoid a second dose for many people who will be delighted.”

Health minister Olivier Véran added that this could affect between 5 and 6 million people who would only need one dose.

Anyone who has had Covid cannot be vaccinated in France until three months after they recovered.

Le Geludec added: “If you have had Covid, yes you should be vaccinated… However, not immediately, we have advised three to six months after a symptomatic form of the virus.

“These patients are protected for a certain period of time. On the other hand, we also know, with the more robust data since our opinion, that one dose is enough.”

People who only need one dose of the vaccine are given a vaccination certificate marked with a second dose, so that they show up as ‘fully vaccinated’ on France’s health passport, which from next week can be used to enter concerts and sports matches as well as some types of international travel.

READ ALSO How France’s health passport will work this summer 

The health passport also allows people to upload a recent negative Covid test, or proof of having recently recovered from Covid – the accepted proof is a positive PCR or antigen test more than 15 days and less than 6 months old, and a follow-up negative test.

People who had Covid more than six months ago, or who never got a test while they were ill, cannot use the recovery option.

French president Emmanuel Macron, who caught Covid in December, has recently announced that he has now been vaccinated but, unlike many other politicians, declined to post a topless vaccine selfie.

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COVID-19

Public Health Agency recommends two Covid doses next year for elderly

Sweden's Public Health Agency is recommending that those above the age of 80 should receive two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine a year, once in the spring and once in the autumn, as it shifts towards a longer-term strategy for the virus.

Public Health Agency recommends two Covid doses next year for elderly

In a new recommendation, the agency said that those living in elderly care centres, and those above the age of 80 should from March 1st receive two vaccinations a year, with a six month gap between doses. 

“Elderly people develop a somewhat worse immune defence after vaccination and immunity wanes faster than among young and healthy people,” the agency said. “That means that elderly people have a greater need of booster doses than younger ones. The Swedish Public Health Agency considers, based on the current knowledge, that it will be important even going into the future to have booster doses for the elderly and people in risk groups.” 

READ ALSO: 

People between the ages of 65 and 79 years old and young people with risk factors, such as obesity, diabetes, poor kidney function or high blood pressure, are recommended to take one additional dose per year.

The new vaccination recommendation, which will start to apply from March 1st next year, is only for 2023, Johanna Rubin, the investigator in the agency’s vaccination programme unit, explained. 

She said too much was still unclear about how long protection from vaccination lasted to institute a permanent programme.

“This recommendation applies to 2023. There is not really an abundance of data on how long protection lasts after a booster dose, of course, but this is what we can say for now,” she told the TT newswire. 

It was likely, however, that elderly people would end up being given an annual dose to protect them from any new variants, as has long been the case with influenza.

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