France has approved use of the Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine in people with existing health problems aged between 65 and 74.
It means previous advice – that the jab should be for under-65s only – has been reversed.
In late January, President Emmanuel Macron claimed the British-developed vaccine was “quasi-ineffective” in those of pensionable age.
France initially said that data from trials in older age groups was limited, echoing the stance taken in Germany.
Since then, however, further research has provided more evidence of the vaccine’s efficacy.
In the UK – which approved its use in all age groups just before the turn of the year – a single shot has been found to be more than 80% effective at preventing hospitalisation among the over 80s.
As of Friday, France had used less than a quarter of the 1.1m AstraZeneca doses it had received, according to government data.
It has also been struggling with a shortage of vaccines from its other suppliers, Pfizer and Moderna.
Health Minister Olivier Veran told BFMTV: “Anybody aged 50 or over who is affected by co-morbidities can get the AstraZeneca vaccine, including those between 65 and 74.”
He added that those 75 and over would continue to get the Pfizer and Moderna jabs only.
Mr Veran said that people who have had COVID-19 in recent months will need only one dose of those two vaccines.
Recent infection acts as a partial protection against the virus, meaning a second dose isn’t essential, France’s High Authority for Health has argued.
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