France vaccinates its citizens in South Africa with its own specially imported doses

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  • France has started to vaccinate its nationals, and their families, living in South Africa.
  • The French Embassy is using some 2,000 specially imported doses of the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine.
  • This independent deployment, as South Africa grapples with supply constraints, has drawn some criticism.
  • But France is not the only country carrying out a foreign vaccination campaign aimed at protecting its citizens in South Africa, the French press secretary told Business Insider SA.
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French citizens over 55 are vaccinated in South Africa with specially imported doses of the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) single injection vaccine.

The French Embassy in South Africa began its own deployment of the Covid-19 vaccine on Thursday morning. The decision to vaccinate French citizens aged 55 and over follows a visit to the country by President Emmanuel Macron at the end of May.

The Embassy and Consulates General of Cape Town and Johannesburg have been tasked with organizing a vaccination campaign in line with Macron’s commitment to vaccinate French citizens residing abroad.

“French President Emmanuel Macron has said that France will offer vaccination to all French citizens, including those living outside France, by August 31, 2021,” the press secretary told Business Insider South Africa from the French Embassy in South Africa, Janke Tolmay.

“The French government has made the decision to offer vaccination to its citizens abroad, if local vaccination is not available or not easily accessible.”

The public announcement of the French Embassy on June 14 drew some criticism. The vaccination rollout in South Africa has been delayed by supply shortages due, in part, to richer countries racking up doses.

“It’s not fair. The world knows it,” Fatima Hassan of the Health Justice Initiative said on Twitter, arguing that France had blocked the Covid-19 TRIPS waiver that would allow countries to manufacture their own vaccines, thus mitigating the current imbalance in supply.

“We have less than 2 million people vaccinated here due to a supply crisis. June 2021. But, now we have the G7 vaccine apartheid right here locally.”

The French pharmaceutical policy observatory, the Observatoire Transparence Médicaments, echoed Hassan’s criticism, adding that the French foreign minister had recently “refused to clearly support the lifting of patents requested in particular by South Africa. South”.

“At the same time, the French Embassy announced a vaccination campaign for French nationals only, while the South African population still has limited access.”

But Tolmay argues that President Macron has “repeatedly reaffirmed his commitment to support the initiative of South Africa and India for a TRIPS waiver for pharmaceutical interventions related to Covid-19” .

In response, Hassan says Macron has constantly changed his mind about his support for the waiver.

“Macron’s flip flops… the week he says he’s for quitting, the following week doesn’t,” Hassan told Business Insider SA.

“He’s been saying a lot of different things over the past few months and it’s not like they [France] did nothing important or material to send vaccines to the countries of the South. “

France’s vaccination efforts in South Africa aim to reach around 2,000 French nationals. Vaccinations began Thursday in Tshwane and will begin Saturday in Cape Town. The following people aged 55 and over are eligible for vaccination:

  • French citizens and their married or civil union spouses.
  • Foreign parents of French children who are minors or adults.
  • Representatives of French educational establishments abroad and of the Alliances Françaises from South Africa, and their married or civil union spouses.

“The vaccines are provided by the French government. They were shipped specifically from France, with the approval of the South African authorities (the Department of International Relations and Cooperation and the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority ), “Tolmay said.

“French residents in South Africa who choose to be vaccinated under the French diet will not be vaccinated under the South African diet and will not use doses of vaccine purchased by the South African government.”

As this deployment is an independent initiative, French citizens will not register through South Africa’s Electronic Immunization Data System (EVDS) and will instead need to make an appointment directly with the embassy online. French citizens will receive an SMS confirming the time of their appointment. The registration process includes:

  • A patient information form
  • A vaccination consent form
  • A pre-vaccination medical questionnaire

And according to Tolmay, France is not the only country to deploy its own vaccination program in South Africa.

“Other foreign missions in South Africa have made similar arrangements, as part of their due diligence mission.”

Although it is separate from the national deployment in South Africa, Tolmay told Business Insider SA that the total number of vaccinations will be communicated to the South African government once the campaign ends.

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