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POLITICS

Just 20 percent of the French remain vaccine-sceptic, latest polls show

Previously the most sceptical nation in Europe over the Covid vaccine, latest polls show the French are now much more likely to get the shot, with a big fall in the number of people saying they do not intend to be vaccinated.

Just 20 percent of the French remain vaccine-sceptic, latest polls show
As the French vaccine rollout picks up the pace, vaccine scepticism has fallen. Photo: Thomas Samson/AFP

Polls from early January, as the Covid vaccination drive began, reported just 40 percent of French people saying they intended to get the vaccine, causing a huge headache for politicians since a minimum of 60 percent of the population needs to be vaccinated to gain herd immunity.

But as the vaccine drive picks up the pace – and following an advertising campaign from the government – new polls show the French much more enthusiastic about getting their jab.

The poll conducted by the centre for political research at Sciences Po university by polling firm Opinion Way, reported 65 percent of people saying they had either been vaccinated or intended to be vaccinated.

Thirteen percent said they were unsure and 20 percent said they did not intend to get the vaccine.

This broadly correlates with the predictions of France’s health minister Olivier Véran, who on Wednesday said he believed that 80 percent of the population would get the vaccine in the end.

He told radio station LCI: “A few months ago, at best 40 percent of French people wanted to be vaccinated. 

“We had counted on 60 percent of the French population by age group. We wanted to go up to 70 percent, we’re going to get 80 percent. 

“The French don’t believe without having seen, they have doubts – that’s our collective strength. But they do what they need to do to be protected.”

The below graphics from French journalist Nicolas Berrod show the percentages vaccines in each age group (blue for one dose only, red for fully vaccinated) with the highest percentage in the 75 plus age group, who have been eligible for the vaccine since January.

 

Even the earliest polls showed France to be more vaccine-hesitant than completely anti-vaccine, with many people saying simply that they hadn’t made up their minds, or they intended to wait and see how the vaccine rollout went and whether people suffered any ill effects.

Back in January, The Local spoke to Antoine Bristielle, a public opinion researcher with the centre-left Jean-Jaurès Foundation, who warned against giving too much weight to the anti-vaxx movement in France.

“There has been a tendency to think that those expressing a reluctance towards the (Covid-19) vaccine are anti-vaxxers and conspiracy theorists who would never accept getting vaccinated,” Bristielle told The Local.

Of the 40-50 percent Covid-19 vaccine sceptics, only 20 percent have decided they will definitely not get the jab.

“The rest are people who doubt. They can be persuaded,” Bristielle said. To be convinced, those on the fence “need to see that the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risk,” Bristielle said.

READ ALSO How worried does France need to be about its vaccine sceptics?

After a slow and creaking start, France’s vaccine rollout has moved into a high gear in recent weeks, with more than 500,000 people getting vaccinated most days, and France on Thursday recording an all-time record of 672,000 injections given.

 

The government’s target to have given at least one dose to 20 million people by May 15th was hit, and the next target is 30 million people (around 60 percent of the adult population) by June 15th.

The poll also showed a sharp increase in belief in the vaccine, with 73 percent of those questioned agreeing that “the collective benefit of vaccination is worth getting vaccinated”.

In fact 51 percent of respondents even believe that vaccination should be compulsory for people living in France, compared to 46 percent who are against it. The government has repeatedly said it will not make vaccines compulsory.

The planned ‘health passports’ which will be in use from June 9th will be used only for access to large events such as concerts and not everyday activities such as shopping or going to a café. They also have provision to upload a negative Covid test for those who either cannot be vaccinated or don’t want to be.

READ ALSO How France’s health passport will work this summer 

According to the survey, a large majority of French people (75 percent) want the vaccination campaign to be accelerated and for vaccines to be open to all age groups. The Prime Minister announced on Thursday that vaccination will be open to all adults from May 31st – two weeks ahead of schedule. 

But in case the government gets too cocky, 58 percent of people said the health crisis is not being managed well and the same proportion think the vaccine rollout is not being managed well.

Overall, 55 percent of respondents said it was probable that “our leaders know important things about the Covid-19 epidemic that citizens are not informed about.”

The poll was conducted online between May 3rd and 11th with 1,832 respondents from a representative demographic sample. 

Member comments

  1. This is a side effect of initial scarcity – now vaccine is seeing as a treasured and rare thing you have to hunt for. Perfect marketing in any consumerist society.

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POLITICS

‘Affaire Mila’: Six convicted for harassing French teen over anti-Islam videos

A French court convicted six people on Tuesday for harassing a teen online over her anti-Islam videos in a case that sparked debate about free speech and the right to insult religions.

'Affaire Mila': Six convicted for harassing French teen over anti-Islam videos

The girl, known as Mila, was forced to change schools and accept police protection due to threats to her life after videos in which she insulted Islam went viral in January 2020 and November the same year.

The court handed sentences ranging from a three-month suspended prison term to four months with an electronic bracelet to the two men and four women, aged 19 to 39.

The six were ordered to pay damages of €3,000 ($3,200) each to Mila.

“Their conviction was necessary,” said Mila’s lawyer Richard Malka, but added that he felt no satisfaction at seeing them sentenced.

READ MORE: What is the ‘Affaire Mila’ and what does it say about France and Islam?

“My only satisfaction would be if Mila were able to lead a normal life… and that is not the case,” Malka said.

In the first viral video posted on Instagram in January 2020, Mila responded to personal abuse from a boy who she says insulted her about her sexuality “in the name of Allah”.

She launched into an expletive-laden rant against Islam along with other explicit comments about Allah deemed highly offensive to practising Muslims.

She published a second video with similar content in November of the same year, after a jihadist killing of French high-school teacher Samuel Paty, who had shown students controversial cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed.

Mila’s lawyer says she received over 100,000 extremely virulent messages in response to the videos, with one person writing that Mila deserved “to have her throat cut”, while others threatened sexual assault.

In July 2021, a French court convicted 11 people for harassment and handed suspended sentences, with some ordered to pay damages of 1,500 euros.

The case has received widespread public attention because it touches on hotly contested issues in France, from cyber harassment to the right to blaspheme, and attitudes to religious minorities.

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