Covid: does the compulsory pre-vaccination consultation slow the process down in France?

Published by Elodie D. · Published on 5 January 2021 at 10h40
A week after the first vaccines in France, only 516 French were vaccinated as of January 1, the Health Minister announced. Some doctors criticize the pre-vaccination consultation, “a precautionary luxury that is not relevant” Seine-Saint-Denis Avicennes hospital ER head Frédéric Adnet says. A major step for others.

The government has been very cautious with the coronavirus vaccine, even too cautious, some say. The compulsory pre-vaccination consultation is in some doctors’ crosshairs as they consider it slows vaccination down.

This compulsory Covid appointment between the patient and their doctor enables to assess “the patient’s clinical state”, especially to check if they have no allergy or if they are not sick, inform them about the “advantages and risks of vaccine” and get consent, that is crucial, especially for dependent people living in nursing homes.

The only pitfall, the vaccination guide reads: “pre-vaccination consultation will have to be completed at the latest 5 days before vaccination is initiated so that the facilities can ask for enough doses”. This period of time is said to be too long for some doctors who do not understand this “precautionary luxury that is not relevant” Seine-Saint-Denis Avicennes hospital ER head Frédéric Adnet tells BFM.

The emergency physician says: “we do not complete this process when one injects antibiotics or flu vaccine. This is a medicine like the others, prescription rules shall be ordinary”.

Yet, this pre-vaccination consultation is currently necessary, and for logistical reasons. As a matter of fact, the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine requires some incredible logistics, including storage at -70°C (-94°F). When doses leave the few freezers dedicated to the vaccine, they have to be inoculated within 5 days while being stored between 2 and 8°C (naming between 35.6 and 46.4°F). Thing you are thawing doses out, but the day of the vaccine, elderly people living in nursing homes are withdrawing… Do you have to vaccinate someone else? And if so, not complying with the vaccination protocol as planned by the Ministry?

These issues are genuinely problematic, because France is suffering from criticisms from all over the world as the French vaccine program is very slow. But they are soon to disappear with the arrival of other vaccines which logistics is less restricting. Moderna vaccine requires to be stored at -20°C (-4°F) and can be stored in the refrigerator for a month before inoculation. As for AstraZeneca vaccine, it does not need to be frozen.

In the meantime, a gathering on the vaccination campaign is held urgently this Monday at the Elysée Palace, as required by Emmanuel Macron.

Practical information