PARIS (Reuters) – French President Emmanuel Macron said on Tuesday that France should be in a position to embark on a broader COVID-19 vaccination campaign between April and June next year, after initially targeting a smaller group of people.
A first vaccination campaign towards the end of December or in January would be aimed at a smaller segment of the population and the most vulnerable, Macron told a news conference after meeting with Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo.
France’s top health advisory body said on Monday it had recommended COVID-19 vaccinations should target retirement home residents and their staff first.
“There will be a first phase that will start as soon as possible, meaning when approvals are in from European health authorities and doses are supplied,” Macron said, adding that figuring out the logistic of this first campaign would be complex, in part due to the very cold conditions needed to store some vaccines.
He said a second phase of vaccinations would likely take place between April and June.
“It will be broader and more aimed at the general public,” Macron said.
He reiterated that vaccination would not be compulsory in France, but added that the country would aim to get as many people as possible on board “with a strategy to convince and based on transparency”.
France has one of the world’s lowest levels of trust in vaccines. According to an Ipsos poll 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.
(Reporting by Benoit Van Overstraeten, Henri-Pierre Andre and Claude Chendjou, Writing by Sarah White; Editing by Alison Williams and Alex Richardson)