By Cindi Cook
PARIS (AA) - Coronavirus numbers continued to fall Friday, signaling a light at the end of the tunnel for France.
Infections dropped to 11,221 compared to 12,696 Thursday as the virus continues to inch downward.
Total infections stand at 2,268,552 since record-keeping began in March, according to the Ministry of Health.
Fatalities fell to 284, a drop of 42 deaths. The official death toll stands at 54,767.
Hospitalizations fell as well, to 8,545 from 8,614 the previous day, a drop of 69 patients. And 1,161 patients remain in intensive care, down 43.
The positivity rate in France remains at 10.7%.
Worldwide, the death toll from COVID-19 is more than 1.5 million in 191 countries since emanating from China last December. The number of infections has risen to exceed 65.6 million, according to US-based Johns Hopkins University.
French Prime Minister Jean Castex outlined a national vaccination plan during a news conference late Thursday, in accordance with the High Authority for Health. It will start Jan. 1. with a free shot to everyone.
The 1 million elderly who live in care homes will be the first to receive it, followed by health care workers employed in nursing homes and, importantly, those who transport them, then the elderly population.
A second vaccination campaign will follow in February where the vaccine will be given to those older than 75, then 65 to 74 with a co-morbidity, then to those in the age group without. Following that, anyone in the health and medical fields older than 50 will receive the shot.
The general population will then receive the vaccine in the spring, from the eldest to the most vulnerable, followed by the remainder of the population.
France has ordered 1 million doses from the three different companies who have vaccine candidates: Pfizer, along with BioNTech, Moderna, both US-based, and AstraZeneca, based in the UK
Although the vaccine is completely voluntary, a recent iFop poll by the French weekly, The Sunday Journal, shows 59% of the French are resistant to getting it. Interestingly, only 29% of those younger than 35 said they would take the vaccine.