Covid-19: fourth dose of vaccine, why the government is targeting the over 80s

► What did Jean Castex announce?

Even as the government prepares to ease health measures on Monday March 14 and Covid-19 cases seem to be on the rise again, Jean Castex has announced a fourth dose of vaccine ” now ” for people over 80 and immunocompromised people who received their booster more than three months ago. Just over four million French people would be affected. This reminder is recommended and not mandatory. It will not affect the vaccination pass since it disappears from Monday.

→ CONTEXT. Covid-19: measures are eased, contaminations are starting again

In an interview at Parisianthe Prime Minister is on course to lift restrictions because “Hospital pressure continues to drop with fewer than 1,900 critical care patients.” Before, however, “Strongly recommend to people who are fragile because of their age or their pathologies to maintain the wearing of a mask in closed places”.

► Why are the over 80s a priority?

If seniors are generally numerous to be vaccinated, those over 80 are significantly less than others. A little less than three quarters of this segment is fully vaccinated with a booster dose, against more than 90% of 70-75 year olds for example. However, all the data shows that the oldest seniors are the most victims of Covid-19. “Regardless of their vaccination status, people over 80 are more at risk than 60-79 year olds”confirmed the Ministry of Health in a study published at the end of January.

With age, the immune system becomes less efficient, even in healthy seniors. In another study published last December, health authorities observed that “the vaccine efficacy against the symptomatic forms drops very significantly after six months, particularly for people aged between 75 and 84 years and more strongly for those aged 85 or over, with respectively 50.6% and 38 .6% efficiency”. It is this rapid and significant loss of protection that prompted the government to open access to a fourth dose for the over 80s.

► Will the fourth dose be extended to other categories?

Given the reduced efficacy of the vaccine in seniors over time, it is not impossible that everyone over 60 or 65 could receive a fourth dose in the coming months. In reality, everything will depend on the evolution of the epidemic and the level of saturation of the intensive care units. Before the rise in recent days, many epidemiologists were counting on the transformation of the pandemic into a seasonal epidemic, like the flu, which would then only require annual winter vaccination.

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It remains to be seen whether this announcement will not cause a certain weariness among the French. Not to mention that the over 80s are also those who have the most difficulty getting vaccinated. Apart from those who are in health establishments or for the elderly, these seniors are often isolated, not very mobile to go to a vaccination center or to the doctor and not very experienced in digital tools to make appointments.


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