France is to open up COVID-19 vaccination to people over the age of 18 from June 15, President Emmanuel Macron announced on Friday.
The announcement comes a day after Macron outlined his plan to phase out COVID-19 restrictions across the country. It aims for most non-essential businesses including bars and restaurants to fully reopen on June 9.
The French government has been harshly criticized for the initial slow rollout of the vaccination campaign but has since sharply ramped up its efforts.
It reached its target to administer at least 10 million first doses by mid-April a week early and now aims for 30 million people to have received their first dose by mid-June.
As of Thursday, 14.9 million first doses had been administered while 6.3 million people have been fully inoculated.
According to government statistics, this amounts to 30 per cent of people over the age of 18, with 60 per cent of people over the age of 60 and 69 per cent of those aged 70 or over having received a least one dose.
Vaccination is currently open to anyone over the age of 55. A further four million people became eligible on Friday when it was extended to anyone over the age of 18 with comorbidities including diabetes, hypertension, kidney or heart deficiencies and obesity.
People aged 50 and over will be able to get their shots from May 15.
France is continental Europe’s second worst-impacted country with more than 104,000 lives lost since the beginning of the pandemic.
It reentered lockdown in early April in an effort to curb a surge in new infections blamed on the spread of the British variant that was putting the healthcare system under serious strain.
Over 26,500 new infections were reported on Thursday — down from nearly 61,000 on the first day of the new lockdown.
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