Covid booster demand surges in France after Macron's speech
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Demand for Covid booster jabs jumped in France after President Emmanuel Macron said a top-up dose would be necessary for people to retain their vaccine passes, the country's main appointment booking site said Wednesday.
"The Macron effect" prompted 149,000 requests for shots, most during and immediately after the president's televised address on Tuesday evening, in which he warned that coronavirus cases were again on the rise, Doctolib said.
Anticipation of the tougher rules had already sparked 96,000 bookings on Monday, compared with an average of 50,000 a day in recent weeks.
Macron announced that from December 15 people over 65 would require a booster shot if they want to continue using their vaccine passes to gain entry to bars, restaurants, cinemas and other public venues.
He added that from age 50 up, people would be allowed to request an additional vaccine dose, without it being mandatory for the Covid passes of 50-64-year-olds.
France has one of the strictest vaccination regimes in Europe, with the passes required to take intercity trains, visit museums and go to gyms, among other amenities.
That has pushed France's overall vaccination rate to 75 percent, a level relatively unchanged in recent weeks.
Doctolib said only 20,000 of the Tuesday bookings were for first-time vaccinations.
In his speech Macron urged the roughly six million people in France yet to get even a first jab to do so: "This is an appeal for responsibility -- get vaccinated," he said.
He also said face masks will again be mandatory for all schoolchildren in a bid to avoid a new wave of cases.
The government is also currently weighing making vaccines available to children under 12.
As of Tuesday, there have been an average of 36 daily Covid deaths in hospital over the past week, a 21 percent rise from the previous week, according to health ministry figures.
France's total death toll since the start of the pandemic stands at 118,023.