“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,” the French National Authority for Health (HAS) said in a statement on Friday.
The regulator said obligatory jabs for health workers should be “considered without delay”, describing it as an “ethical issue as much as a health issue.”
Its recommendation comes as France is bracing for a fourth wave of infection, as the number of new cases each day has been growing since the beginning of July.
Health chiefs believe the uptick has been caused by the more infectious Delta variant of Covid-19, which the Health Minister Olivier Veran said will likely become the dominant strain in France by this weekend.
President Emmanuel Macron is due to address the nation on Monday, when according to French media he is likely to issue an update on the current health situation and possibly alter the government’s response to the crisis.
In response to the increase in Delta cases, the HAS also recommended cutting the interval between vaccine doses for the mRNA-based Pfizer and Moderna jabs, which it said were the most effective vaccines.
It also advised that people aged over 55 who received a first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine should be offered an mRNA jab as their second jab, which it said should be administered from four weeks after the first dose.
Recent studies have shown that an AstraZeneca shot followed by an mRNA booster provides a significant immune response with a “reassuring” tolerance, HAS said.
The number of people hospitalized with the virus decreased slightly on Friday to 7,275, although 4,580 new Covid-19 cases were recorded and a further 18 deaths, according to Public Health France.