PARIS (AP) – While governments in Europe kicked off their virus vaccination plans this weekend, France has taken a lower key approach due to the general skepticism among citizens about the vaccines.
After the first shots were fired on Sunday into the arm of 78-year-old Mauricette, a woman in a long-term care facility near Paris, President Emmanuel Macron called on his countrymen: ‘Let us have confidence in our researchers and doctors . We are the nation of the Enlightenment and of (vaccine pioneer Louis) Pasteur. Reason and science must guide us. ”
Yet many of his countrymen are concerned. They have been remembering French health scandals for decades, including those involving mismanaged vaccines. They fear that the coronavirus vaccines have been developed too quickly, aimed at bringing profits to major pharmaceutical companies, or at risking long-term side effects that the world will only discover for years to come.
France has lost more lives to the virus than most countries, and its economy – one of the largest in the world – has been deeply paralyzed by two virus outbreaks. Doctors hope that the hesitation of the French vaccine will disappear as more people are vaccinated.
Dr Jean-Jacques Monsuez, a 65-year-old cardiologist in a nursing home north-east of Paris, was the second vaccine France received on Sunday. After being injected and several elderly patients, he said: ‘They are being vaccinated, we are being vaccinated, we are all in the same boat. And the boat can not sink.
“And around the boat there is a land that cannot sink.”
Politicians on the far right and far left of France have raised concerns about vaccines, but polls commissioned by the National Health Agency suggest that skepticism is also coming from some moderate voters.
Justine Lardon is walking on a crutch after suffering serious side effects from a hepatitis B vaccine in 2010, and is hesitant about being vaccinated against the virus. She told local newspaper Le Progres that she supported vaccination, but was concerned that doctors were not paying enough attention to individual health issues.
“If (the vaccine) can eradicate the epidemic, that’s great, but I do not want a vaccine that is a time bomb,” she is quoted as saying.
The French government was careful in its messages, and wanted to ensure that it was not considered the coercion of the public. Instead, authorities are relying on doctors to convince patients that the vaccine is in their and the country’s best interests.
Macron reiterated on Sunday that the vaccine would be free – and not mandatory.
France’s first vaccination was not televised as elsewhere, and no ministers attended. No top officials have said they are still getting the vaccine, but insist it should go to the most vulnerable first.
In a country with a large elderly population, including many with cognitive disabilities, the government has come under pressure from concerned families to provide extensive guidance for the collection of consent from nursing home patients before they are vaccinated.
However, many French are eager to be vaccinated as soon as possible.
“I was very touched,” Mauricette said when she was the first in France to receive the vaccine. “You’re a star,” said the doctor who administered it, after folding Mauricette’s sleeve gently over the small bandage on her upper arm.
“We do not have to convince her. She said ‘yes, I’m ready for anything to avoid the disease,’ ‘said Dr. Samir Tine, head of geriatric services at her facility in Sevran, northeast of Paris, said.
“This is an important day,” Tine said. “We are very eager to have a new weapon, and we are very eager to rediscover our normal lives.”
France reported the highest number of viral infections in Western Europe, and among the highest death toll, 62,573 lives were lost. Nearly a third have died in nursing homes, which is why the government has decided to give the vaccine to the elderly first, as well as to medical workers who are at risk.
Health Minister Olivier Veran said in an interview with the Journal du Dimanche on Sunday that the pressure on hospitals could start growing again, saying that infections are on the rise again in some regions, especially among older people in rural areas. t excludes a third exclusion.
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