By Yiming Woo and Antony Paone
PARIS (Reuters) – Reluctant French people lined up to get vaccinated as authorities were set to get tougher on the mandatory health pass for entering restaurants, trains and public places.
From this week, citizens have been required to show the pass in public places, proving that they have been vaccinated or have recently been tested negative for the coronavirus.
While police had instructions to be lenient the first week, the government has vowed to get tougher on health pass checks from next week.
With testing set to be no longer free from October, many went to vaccination centres with heavy hearts in order to get the pass and be able to carry on with their lives as normal.
“We need to get vaccinated to be able to do things that we need to do, because doing an antigen test each time for the health pass is quite cumbersome,” said Charazede Benamirouche at a vaccination centre in the northern city of Saint-Quentin.
“I have a lot of planned activities, a lot of planned trips … so I really need to get vaccinated now.”
Yasmina M’Baraka, a distribution centre worker getting her first jab, was equally unenthusiastic.
“I feel forced to get the vaccination…to enjoy my freedom, to enjoy my life of a 31-year-old young woman,” she said.
France has registered 6.39 million confirmed coronavirus cases and 112,468 deaths since the start of the pandemic.
Medical staff at the centres said that while in the first months of the vaccination drive, some thankful patients would brings sweets or little gifts, or leave kind notes in the visitors’ book, many now were grumpy.
“We have people who come because it’s required and who really make us feel that. We sometimes get aggressive people, who are not happy to get vaccinated, who sometimes make us the scapegoats of the system,” doctor Eric-Alain Junes said.
More than 45 million French people have been vaccinated with at least one jab, with an increase after President Emmanuel Macron’s July 12 speech https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/france-make-covid-19-shot-mandatory-health-workers-bfm-tv-2021-07-12 where he announced the health pass and mandatory vaccination for health workers.
But distrust of the vaccine and the government’s Covid policies remains deep as France heads for a fifth weekend of nationwide demonstrations https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/protesters-france-denounce-covid-health-pass-rules-fourth-weekend-2021-08-07 against the health pass.
“I didn’t want to get vaccinated because I feel that the vaccine was developed quickly despite everything. We don’t really have proof of the risks it could have for our health over the years,” M’Baraka said.
(Reporting by Yiming Woo and Antony Paone; Writing by Geert De Clercq; Editing by Angus MacSwan)