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France Faces Public Resistance to COVID Vaccine

A student of the Emile Dubois high school takes part in a COVID-19 antigen test in Paris, France Nov. 23, 2020.

As French authorities prepare to roll out their COVID immunization strategy this week, they face skepticism in a country where surveys show many people do not trust the vaccine.

France was among the nations of Europe taking the heaviest hit from the COVID-19 outbreak as more than 50, 000 people died of the virus.

Like the rest of the world, hopes are high that vaccines will defeat the virus and enable people to go back to a normal life. The French immunization campaign is scheduled to start by the end of December with the elderly, people living in nursing homes and medical personnel slated to receive the first doses.

In an address to the nation, French President Emmanuel Macron said a scientific committee would supervise the immunization campaign and a citizen group would be created to make sure the population is part of the process. Immunization against COVID-19 must be clear and transparent and information must be shared on what is known and unknown, insists Macron, who stressed that immunization will not be mandatory in France.

The government is worried that millions of French people will refuse coronavirus vaccine shots due as skepticism grows in the country. Fifty-nine percent of French people surveyed say they would not get vaccinated, according to an IFO poll published on Sunday.

Prime Minister Jean Castex recently said his fear is that not enough French people will get vaccinated.

Jean Paul Stahl, a French doctor of infectious diseases, said the numbers concern him.

The professor explains there is a common fear of side effects for these vaccine.

He said there is also skepticism as people see this vaccine as a tool used by the government. Stahl said that nowadays in our societies, more and more people do not trust any authority: political, scientific, and others.

France has budgeted more than $1.75 billion to buy vaccines next year.