French Prime Minister Jean Castex said on Thursday that he was pleased to see that the Covid-19 vaccination program was beginning to be widely accepted by French citizens, who are among the most skeptical in the world about vaccinations.
“I am pleased to see that the vaccination program is being accepted to a greater extent – this is excellent news for our country,” said Castex when he visited a vaccination facility in the eastern part of the country.
France has promised to speed up and expand its vaccination program after being subjected to a slow launch. The vaccinations started at the end of December and began with staff and residents in nursing homes and those at risk of developing serious symptoms of the virus.
But unlike its European neighbors, France’s launch has been slow, with just 0.38 Covid-19 vaccines per million administered people compared to at least 4.52 in the UK, according to Oxford University’s Our World in Data tracker.
At the end of December, Minister of Health Olivier Véran suggested that the government proceeded slowly consciously to reassure people about the benefits of the vaccine.
Anti-vaccine sentiment is relatively widespread in France. An Ipsos survey published in November found that 46 percent of French adults said they would refuse a Covid-19 vaccine – compared with 21 percent in the UK and 30 percent in Germany. A survey from Gallup from 2019 showed that one in three French people believes that all vaccines are dangerous – the highest proportion of respondents who say so in 144 countries surveyed.
The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are currently being administered in France. The EU is expected to approve the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine by the end of January.
France will probably have to take tougher measures due to virus variants
Website for vaccine meetings launched
France registered 23,852 new cases of Covid-19 on Wednesday, compared with 19,752 the previous day. Data from the Ministry of Health also showed that 229 people had died from the virus in hospital, compared to 355 on Tuesday.
The number of people in intensive care increased by double-digit figures for the fourth day in a row, up by 23 to 2,711.
Castex will unveil new measures to clear the pandemic in France later on Thursday, with French media reporting that a nationwide curfew from 18:00 is the most likely option.
“The question has been raised as to whether there will be another containment,” said JowharInternational Affairs Editor Philip Turle. “I think it will be a last resort that the government will introduce. I think they are going more towards getting a previous curfew.”
The government was also to launch a website for Covid-19 vaccination meetings on Thursday, but the Ministry of Health said that the website had connection problems.
“The site is down,” a spokeswoman for the ministry said. A message on the website says that it is undergoing maintenance.
( Jowharwith REUTERS)