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French Prime Minister Jean Castex said on Thursday that he was happy to see the Covid-19 vaccination program starting to be more widely accepted by French citizens, who are among the most skeptical of vaccinations in the world.
“I am happy to see that the vaccination program is more widely accepted – this is great news for our country,” Castex said during a visit to a vaccination center in the east of the country.
France has vowed to speed up and expand its vaccination program after being criticized for its slow deployment. Vaccinations began at the end of December, starting with staff and residents of nursing homes and those considered to be at risk of developing severe symptoms of the virus.
But unlike its European neighbors, France’s deployment has been slow, with just 0.38 Covid-19 vaccine per million people administered compared to at least 4.52 in the UK, according to the Our World in Data monitoring. ‘University of Oxford.
The Minister of Health Olivier Véran suggested at the end of December that the government was proceeding slowly and deliberately, to reassure people about the benefits of the vaccine.
Anti-vaccine sentiment is relatively widespread in France. An Ipsos poll released in November found that 46% of French adults said they would refuse a Covid-19 vaccine – up from 21% in the UK and 30% in Germany. A 2019 Gallup poll found that one in three French people think all vaccines are dangerous – the highest proportion of respondents to say so in 144 countries surveyed.
The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are currently administered in France. The EU is expected to approve the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine by the end of January.
France will likely have to take more stringent measures due to virus variants
Website launch for vaccine appointments
France recorded 23,852 new cases of Covid-19 on Wednesday, against 19,752 the day before. Health ministry data also showed 229 people had died from the virus in hospitals, up from 355 on Tuesday.
The number of people in intensive care increased by double digits for the fourth day in a row, up from 23 to 2,711.
Castex will unveil new measures to curb the pandemic in France later on Thursday, with French media reporting that a nationwide curfew from 6 p.m. is the most likely option.
“The question has been raised whether there will be another lockdown,” said Philip Turle, editor-in-chief of TBEN’s international affairs. “I think this will be a measure of last resort that the government is going to introduce; I think they are moving more towards an earlier curfew. “
The government was also due to launch a website for Covid-19 vaccination appointments on Thursday, but the health ministry said the site was having problems connecting.
“The website is down,” a ministry spokeswoman said. A message on the website said it was under maintenance.
(TBEN with REUTERS)