- France has started vaccinating its nationals living in South Africa and their families.
- The French embassy uses around 2,000 specially imported doses of the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine.
- This independent rollout, while South Africa’s own problems with supply bottlenecks arise, has met with some criticism.
- But France isn’t the only country spearheading a foreign vaccination campaign to protect its citizens in South Africa, the French press attaché told Business Insider SA.
- More stories can be found at www.BusinessInsider.co.za.
French citizens over 55 years of age are vaccinated in South Africa with specially imported doses of Johnson & Johnson’s (J&J) one-shot vaccine.
The French embassy in South Africa started rolling out its own Covid-19 vaccine on Thursday morning. The decision to vaccinate French citizens aged 55 and over followed a visit by President Emmanuel Macron to the country in late May.
The embassy and consulates general of Cape Town and Johannesburg were instructed to organize a vaccination campaign in line with Macron’s commitment to vaccinate French people living abroad.
“French President Emmanuel Macron has announced that France will offer a vaccination to every French citizen, including those outside France, by August 31, 2021,” Janke Tolmay, press attaché from the French embassy in South Africa, told Business Insider South Africa.
“The French government has decided to offer vaccinations to its citizens abroad when local vaccinations are not available or not easily accessible.”
The public announcement by the French embassy on June 14 met with some criticism. South Africa’s own introduction of vaccines has been delayed by supply bottlenecks, partly due to wealthier nations hoarding doses.
“That’s not right. The world knows,” said Fatima Hassan of the Health Justice Initiative on Twitter, arguing that France has blocked the Covid-19 trips waiver that would allow countries to make their own vaccines, thereby eliminating the current imbalance of deliver.
“We vaccinated less than 2 million people here because of a supply crisis. June 2021. But now we have G7 vaccine apartheid here on site.”
The French drug policy watchdog, Observatoire Transparence Médicaments (Medicines Transparency Observatory), echoed Hassan’s criticism, adding that the French foreign minister recently refused to “give clear support to the repeal of patents pending in particular by South Africa.
“At the same time, the French embassy announced a vaccination campaign for French nationals only, while the South African population still has limited access.”
Tolmay argues, however, that President Macron “has repeatedly reiterated his commitment to support South Africa and India’s initiative to waive the TRIPS agreement on Covid-19-related pharmaceutical interventions.”
In response, Hassan says Macron kept changing his attitude towards his support for the waiver.
“Macron flip-flops … the one week he says he is in favor of the waiver and not the next week,” Hassan told Business Insider SA.
“He’s said a lot of different things over the past few months and it’s not like her [France] Did something significant or material to bring vaccines to the Global South. “
France’s vaccination efforts in South Africa aim to reach around 2,000 French nationals. Vaccinations started on Thursday in Tshwane and will begin on Saturday in Cape Town. The following people aged 55 and over can be vaccinated:
- French citizens and their spouses or domestic partners.
- Foreign parents of minor or adult French children.
- Representatives of French educational institutions abroad and of the Alliances Françaises in South Africa as well as their spouses or civil partners.
“The vaccines are provided by the French government. They were specially supplied from France with the approval of the South African authorities (the Department of International Relations and Cooperation and the South African Health Authority),” said Tolmay.
“French residents in South Africa who choose to be vaccinated under the French system will not be vaccinated under the South African system and will not use vaccine doses purchased by the South African government.”
Since this rollout is an independent initiative, French citizens do not register via South Africa’s electronic vaccination data system (EVDS), but have to make an appointment with the embassy directly online. French citizens will receive a text message confirming their appointment. The registration process involves completing:
- A patient information form
- A vaccination certificate
- A pre-vaccination medical questionnaire
And, according to Tolmay, France isn’t the only country in South Africa that is launching its own vaccine program.
“Other diplomatic missions in South Africa have taken similar precautions as part of their duty of care.”
Although Tolmay is separate from the national introduction of South Africa, Tolmay told Business Insider SA that the total number of vaccinations will be reported to the South African government after the campaign ends.