Haunted by pharmaceutical scandals, worried that vaccines have been evolving too quickly, with side effects, some French people are skeptical of the Covid-19 vaccine.
On December 27, the 78-year-old grandmother, Mauricette, became the first person to be vaccinated. President Emmanuel Macron called: “Trust the scientists and doctors. We are the nation of the Enlightenment and that of Louis Pasteur. Let reason and science guide you.”
But many people still expressed concern. They remember about the French medical scandals in recent decades, fearing that the Covid-19 vaccine was being developed too quickly to benefit major pharmaceutical companies. They are concerned about long-term side effects after vaccination, before manifesting a few years later.
France has recorded more Covid-19 deaths than most European countries. The economy was deeply affected after two blockades. Delay in deploying vaccines, experts say, reduces the number of people vaccinated.
Concerns about the vaccine mainly come from far-left and far-right politicians. But polls by health agencies show that moderate voters are also somewhat skeptical.
Justine Lardon, a man with leg paralysis who had to travel on crutches after suffering serious side effects from the 2010 hepatitis B vaccine, is hesitant to know whether to get Covid-19 vaccination. She supports vaccination, but worries that doctors cannot fully monitor the health status.
“If a vaccine can wipe out the epidemic, then great. But I don’t want it to be a time bomb,” she said.
The French government is cautious even when it comes to delivering its message, wanting to ensure it is not seen as coercing the public. Authorities encouraged doctors to convince patients that vaccines were of the greatest benefit to them and to the country.
On December 27, President Macron reiterated that the vaccine was completely free and optional.
France’s first vaccination was not broadcast live like many other countries, with no ministers attending. Industry officials also did not roll up their sleeves to get vaccinated, and instead insisted that priority should be given to the most vulnerable.
In a country with an aging population, many with dementia, the government is under pressure to provide broad guidelines, with the consent of nursing home residents.
However, many French still want to be vaccinated as soon as possible.
“I was very moved,” said Mauricette, who received the first shot.
“You’re a star,” the paramedics gently folded down her sleeve, covered the top of a small alcohol swab, and said.
Dr. Samir Tine, head of geriatric services at the Paris facility, said: “We don’t need to convince her. She said, ‘Sure. I’m ready to do everything to avoid this disease.’ “It’s an important day. We are looking forward to having anti-epidemic weapons and getting back to normal life.”
France is the most affected country in Western Europe by Covid-19, recording more than 2.5 million infections and at least 62,000 deaths. Nearly one third of the deaths live in nursing homes. So the government decided to give vaccines to the elderly and medical staff first.
Disease is increasing again in some areas, especially rural areas. On December 27, Health Minister Olivier Veran warned the hospital could be under pressure, not rule out the possibility of a third blockade.
Thuc Linh (According to the AP)