France’s health regulator said on Friday it recommended that coronavirus vaccinations should be made compulsory without delay for all health workers and for other professionals who come into contact with people vulnerable to COVID-19 infections.
The HAS regulator also advised using mRNA-based Pfizer or Moderna vaccines to slow the spread of the Delta variant as they offered more protection than other shots.
“While the number of new cases and the pressure on the hospital system remain relatively low, the dynamic of the epidemic in France is significant and could quickly lead to a deterioration in the health situation,” HAS said in a statement.
The regulator’s recommendations come 72 hours before President Emmanuel Macron addresses the nation on the progress of the epidemic and his government’s strategy to dampen the impact of what many scientists say is an inevitable fourth wave.
The more contagious Delta variant has led to a sharp upturn in the infection rate this month. The regulator said the government should start thinking about mandatory vaccination of the entire population, in order to be ready to take such a decision if necessary.
HAS also recommended shortening the time period between the first and second vaccination doses and recommended that people over 55 who have received a first shot with the AstraZeneca vaccine get a second dose with an mRNA-based vaccine.
After falling from more than 42,000 per day mid-April to less than 2,000 per day in late June, the seven-day average of new infections has been climbing rapidly again since early July.
On Friday, the health ministry registered 4,580 new infections. In the past six days, the seven-day average number of new infections has increased by more than 50% every day, a rhythm similar to the early phases of earlier waves of the epidemic.