Initially, 500 vaccination centers were planned. A number quickly increased to 700. Finally, more than 1,000 centers opened their doors in France, according to the Ministry of Health. In Brittany, the unit led by the Regional Health Agency and the prefectures announced, Friday January 15, the opening of 48 vaccination centers, spread across the region.
A list that caused the incomprehension of some elected officials, who had offered to make their municipal hall or gymnasium available to open more centers, without this being retained. But opening crosses on the fly is not so easy …
1. One center for 100,000 inhabitants
The authorities indicate that a balanced network of the territory has been put in place. And recall the instruction of the Executive: “The government order is to install a vaccination center for 100,000 inhabitants”, thus indicates the prefect of Morbihan, Patrice Faure.
From this point of view, Brittany largely meets the requirements. Of the 54 Breton centers (new ones have been added in the meantime), 19 are located in Finistère, 10 in Morbihan, 13 in Côtes-d’Armor (8 for individuals and 5 for health professionals) and 12 in Ille-et-Vilaine. Far beyond the government recommendation. And with regard to the map of France of vaccine centers, the Brittany region is even at the top of the basket.
” New ones will gradually open “, Specified the ARS Brittany, which defends having wanted to privilege, initially, the openings in the large basins of life.
2. Few doses
There is no point in opening many centers if there is a lack of vaccine doses. However, this “just in time” supply is already a reality. Thus, nationally, only 2.7 million doses will be available in January. In Brittany, 90,000 doses should be distributed by the end of the month, according to ARS forecasts. Well below the capacities of vaccination centers.
“We risk having to stop making appointments in a certain number of centers”, indicated, on January 15, Stéphane Mulliez, Director General of ARS. “There is no question of giving the first injection and explaining afterwards that we cannot do the second”.
“The challenge is therefore not to increase the number of centers, but to distribute the vaccines well”, underlines Patrice Faure. Olivier Véran, Minister of Health, will not say the opposite. In front of the senators, Thursday, January 21, he proclaimed: “It is not because you will open more centers that you will have more vaccines”.
According to him, the distribution of the doses was not helped by “30 French departments” which opened more centers than the government instruction. “The distribution of vaccines had been provisioned for six centers per department. (…) However, we end up with more than 1,000 centers in France (…) and there are around 30 departments which have carried out “overbooking”, that is to say they found themselves with a little more slots than they had doses ”. It was therefore necessary to distribute the meager doses in more centers, and particularly in some.
3. The arrival of other vaccines
For the moment, France uses vaccination centers because of the complexity of the storage conditions of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, or Moderna. But the arrival of new vaccines, easier to transport and to store, could make it possible to diversify the places of vaccination. Not all of them will therefore be injected into vaccinodromes, which renders the idea of multiplying these endlessly obsolete.
” AstraZeneca could, for example, be used in pharmacies, like the flu shot, in doctors. It’s another distribution network, it’s another logistics, ”said Olivier Véran, on France Inter, on January 19.
Currently, AstraZeneca’s vaccine is under review by the European Medicines Agency. The European Union has ordered 400 million doses, of which 44 go to France. This represents 22 million people vaccinated, who would not need to go to a center.
4. The H1N1 effect?
Finally, we can hypothesize that the government wanted to start small on the number of centers (“five or six per department”), even if it means amplifying then, in view of the failed vaccination campaign of 2009, against the H1N1 flu. At the time, vaccinodromes were quickly deployed in gymnasiums. But they had remained hopelessly empty. Only one in ten French people had traveled.
A scenario that the Executive thought to see repeated not too long ago: at the beginning of January, 58% of French people said they did not intend to be vaccinated, according to an Odoxa-Le Figaro-Franceinfo poll. It was not until mid-January, when the lists of vaccination centers were published, that the trend was reversed.