People aged at least 60 and the immunocompromised could already receive a second booster dose. From now on, other French people at risk of serious forms of the disease, such as diabetics, the obese or even people with psychiatric disorders, would be eligible.
The objective is to “anticipate” to “limit the impact of a future wave, in particular on the most fragile”, to reduce the mortality “associated with Covid-19 and the spread of the epidemic, maintain the capacities of the healthcare system and the vital operating needs of the country”, explained the High Authority for Health in a press release on Wednesday.
Because, even if the epidemic seems to be stabilizing in France, “it is highly likely that the circulation of the virus will re-intensify periodically”, underlines this health authority giving advice to the government.
Of the three scenarios described by the World Health Organization for the next few months, from the most optimistic to the most pessimistic, it judges as “the most probable” that of the middle: a “less” impact of the epidemic “thanks to an immunity durable and sufficient to limit serious forms and deaths”.
But “periodic transmission peaks could occur due to the increase in the proportion of people with reduced immunity”, which would require a “periodic” reminder for those most at risk, explains the HAS.
For the fall, the new anti-Covid vaccination campaign could be coupled with that against seasonal flu, “for reasons of mobilization and logistics”.
The HAS also recommends “considering the vaccination of health professionals in particular with regard to future data on vaccine efficacy against asymptomatic forms of the disease”.
The type of vaccine to be favored for each category of population will, if necessary, be specified later, once new anti-Covid vaccines, targeting for example several variants at the same time, are authorized in France.
– “Many” uncertainties –
It is now up to the government to decide whether or not to follow the HAS recommendation, which it is not obliged to do.
If she felt that “the hardest part is behind us” for the Covid-19 epidemic, the new Minister of Health Brigitte Bourguignon invited Wednesday to “vigilance” in the face of a possible return or “a small outbreak” in autumn.
At this stage, the Borne government invites the “most fragile people to continue to have barrier gestures, to protect themselves, to be vaccinated”, she added on RTL, during her first interview in her new role.
Until then, the rate of vaccination with the second anti-Covid reminders, reserved for those over 60 and the immunocompromised, has stagnated. For a month, there have been around 25,000 injections of these “fourth doses” (more numerous for some immunocompromised) per day.
Among those over 80, some 20% received this new “boost”. Among those aged 60-79, it is even less, around 7%.
“Things are better, there is a downward trend, so gestures are slackening and people may be thinking less about using the vaccine,” noted the minister. “We have to put this subject back on the table.”
And, underlines the High Authority for Health, it is necessary “to continue today the efforts to vaccinate people at risk who are not vaccinated or who have not yet received their first booster dose”.
This is particularly the case for part of the French aged 80 and over: nearly a quarter did not have a first recall.
As for a possible fourth dose of vaccine for the entire population, it is not on the program, for the moment.
But, as the uncertainties remain “many” about the turn that the epidemic will take, in particular under the effect of more severe or transmissible variants, the HAS considers “necessary to be ready to anticipate the pessimistic scenario” which would require a fourth dose. for all adults.
Sub-lineages (BA.4 and BA.5) of the Omicron variant are currently under surveillance, suspected of being more transmissible, but not appearing, for the moment, to be more severe.