France overtakes US in COVID-19 vaccination rate after slow start

France overtakes the US in COVID-19 vaccination rates after a slow start - Photo 1.

Mrs. Mauricette, 78, vaccinated with Pfizer in France – Photo: REUTERS

According to data from Our World in Data, France has one of the highest vaccination rates in the world with 73% of people having received at least one shot.

Although vaccination rates in France are still lower than some other European Union (EU) countries such as Denmark, Ireland or Spain, it is still superior to the US with 64% of the population having received one dose. .

According to the newspaper The LocalFrance used to get off to a surprisingly slow start. In January, 60% of French people in a poll by market research unit Ipsos said they would not get vaccinated (the highest percentage of any country polled), leaving the public confused about the level of vaccination. high vaccine resistance in France.

Despite being the cradle of vaccine science (France is home to the pharmaceutical giant Sanofi and the Pasteur Institute – named after Louis Pasteur, the father of the vaccine industry), the people of this country have long been known for their e-commerce. afraid of vaccines.

A Wellcome Global Monitor survey released in 2019 found that one in three French people think vaccines are unsafe – more than any of the 144 countries surveyed.

At the beginning of the national vaccination program, France also had problems with the shortage of AstraZeneca vaccine and concerns about blood clots after injection. After settling the supply, France began to push up vaccinations in late spring.

By May, France has reached its goal of vaccinating at least one dose for 20 million people (30% of the population). By July, vaccination progress had slowed and COVID-19 cases increased.

At that time, French President Emmanuel Macron implemented a new measure. From August 1, anyone without a “health card” containing vaccination information or testing negative will not be allowed to enter bars, cafes or travel long distances by train.

Healthcare workers who fail to get vaccinated could be fired or suspended from work without pay.

According to CNN, Mr. Macron’s move is a gamble in a country with deep cultural beliefs in individual liberties and a lack of trust in the government.

Many French people protested Mr. Macron’s proposal with protests, but many also ignored the noise to get injections.

France overtakes the US in COVID-19 vaccination rates after a slow start - Photo 2.

Health workers protest against health cards and call for freedom in vaccination – Photo: AP

On July 31, more than 200,000 people took to the streets across the country. On the same day, 532,000 French were vaccinated.

Since July 12, vaccination rates in France have skyrocketed. Doctolib, the main platform for scheduling vaccinations, records 1 million appointments in 24 hours.

Technology plays an important role in enabling people to get injections. The government does not create its own platform, but cooperates with popular websites and applications such as the medical application Doctolib so that people can book an appointment for injections directly at the injection points closest to them, without waiting for a doctor. Doctor invited and did not have to wait long.

French Health Minister Olivier Véran goes to get vaccinated – Source: BFM

The difference also comes from the mindset. The government’s position from the outset was that its job was not simply to provide vaccines, but to convince people to get them.

In February, Health Minister Olivier Véran went to get vaccinated and then posed indifferently to his shoulders to inspire vaccination. The photo then went viral on social media.

In early August, French President Emmanuel Macron posted videos on social networking sites popular with young people like TikTok and Instagram to talk about vaccines, to refute misinformation online and urge people to get vaccinated.

Thanks to many factors such as rising vaccination rates, increased testing rates, technology and mandatory mask wearing in high-risk areas, France has managed to avoid a fourth wave of epidemics sweeping through Europe. Europe.

Tough on anti-vaccination health workers

From September 15, health workers in France can be suspended from work if they have not received the COVID-19 vaccine.

Gabriel Attal, a government spokesman, said more than 90% of health workers have been vaccinated. Polls also show most of them in favor of vaccination.

According to the AP news agency, there are currently about 300,000 health workers in France who have not been vaccinated. Some hospitals fear staff shortages will overwhelm them.

Many health care workers cite misinformation about vaccines online, worry about the long-term effects of vaccines, or want more time to decide. There are also those who are angry and opposed to the administration of President Macron, as well as against compulsory vaccination, but they are not against vaccines themselves.

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