By Lea Guedj
VITRY-SUR-SEINE (Reuters) - Perceval Gete, a 12-year-old French boy, is one of the youngest people in Europe to receive a COVID-19 vaccination, and to accommodate his young age, the nurse administering the jab had to use a special child-size needle.
His mother brought Perceval to a vaccination centre near Paris on Tuesday, the first day the age of eligibility in France was lowered to 12, because, she said, the more people get inoculated, the sooner pandemic restrictions can be lifted.
"I wanted it to be done as soon as possible," his mother, Melanie Gete, said at the vaccination centre in the suburb of Vitry-sur-Seine after Perceval had the jab.
France's government has made people from 12 years upwards eligible for the COVID-19 vaccination, provided they have parental consent.
Previously, the youngest age in France was 18, or 16 if the person had underlying conditions, or was in contact with a person vulnerable to the virus.
In wealthy nations worldwide, governments have been expanding their vaccination programs to include younger people, who are less liable than older people to get seriously ill from COVID-19.
But the limit of 12 years in France is one of the lowest of any major European Union state.
Nurse Aurelie Job, who administered the vaccine to Perceval Gete on Tuesday, used a needle which is around half the length of the standard size used for adults.
"Children have smaller arms so we need smaller needles to vaccinate children," she said. "It prevents us from touching the bone while vaccinating children, and it's less upsetting for them."
(Additional reporting by Matthias Blamont; Writing by Christian Lowe, editing by Alexandra Hudson)