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France’s vaccine-skepticism is making its Covid immunization drive much harder

France is thought to be one of the most vaccine-skeptical nations in the world, with public distrust of immunization programs borne out in opinion polls even prior to the coronavirus pandemic. Now, cynicism in France toward inoculation efforts appears to persist, despite Covid-19 vaccines being rolled out across the U.S., U.K. and European Union. An Ipsos survey conducted in conjunction with the World Economic Forum between Dec. 17-20 (and so after the first Covid-19 vaccinations had been given in the U.S. and U.K. but not yet in the EU), found the lowest levels of vaccination intent in France.

The survey — of 13,500 people in 15 countries — found that only 40% of adults asked in France intended to get the vaccine. The highest intention was found in China, where the coronavirus pandemic first emerged in December 2019, with 80% of people agreeing they would get a vaccine if it were available. For comparison, 77% of those asked in the U.K. said they would have the shot, and 69% of those in the U.S. said they intended to get the vaccine.

France’s coronavirus vaccination program has gotten off to a slow start, and the country is seeking to ramp it up amid pressure from rising coronavirus infections and the threat of several new mutations that make it more transmissible.

France has only vaccinated almost 190,000 people as of Tuesday, according to the latest official data, several weeks into its immunization drive which began on December 27, along with the rest of the EU.

France’s goal is to vaccinate 1 million people by the end of January, with priority given to the elderly and health care workers, but at the current rate this target won’t be reached until Feb. 24, according to France’s CovidTracker.

By comparison, the U.K. has already vaccinated over 2.4 million people, as of Jan. 11, with the first dose of the vaccine (the vaccines currently being deployed require two doses) and is inoculating 200,000 people a day, its health minister said Sunday. It aims to vaccinate 13 million people in its priority groups by mid-February.

France’s slow start has been blamed on bureaucracy and nuances in the country’s vaccination procedure (it’s the only European country where written consent is required before a vaccination can be given), and there is pressure to speed up the process. French President Emmanuel Macron is reportedly unhappy at the sluggishness of the rollout, and both the press and public health experts have been scathing, with one epidemiologist quoted by France 24 as labeling it a “fiasco.”

France’s vaccine-skepticism is making its Covid immunization drive much harder, CNBC, Jan 13

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