PARIS - In France, public frustration with the government is growing as the nation’s coronavirus immunization campaign gets off to a slow start. In response, officials say they will speed up and widen the vaccine rollout.
As of Monday, only 2,500 people had received the vaccine against COVID-19 in France — most of them nursing home residents and their nurses. It is too small a number, critics say, for a rollout that began, as in other EU countries, on December 27.
Critics describe the pace as ridiculously low compared with neighboring Germany, where at least 264,000 people have been vaccinated so far.
French President Emmanuel Macron and his government are under pressure to do better, especially considering the relative success of other nations in Europe.
One of the main critics is Jean Rottner, the president of France’s Grand Est region.
Rottner says the immunization strategy in France is a scandal, and he says the government keeps failing like it did for the masks and the tests. He says he is devastated since his region is heavily hit by the pandemic.
French officials claim they are still on track to reach their goal to have one million people vaccinated by the end of January. To make it, authorities say they will set up 600 immunization centers across the territory by the end of this month.
Olivier Veran, France’s health minister, addressed concerns Tuesday, and he vowed to catch up with the other EU countries.
Veran says the French government will now amplify, accelerate and simplify the immunization strategy. Firefighters and in-home care workers above 50 years of age, will now receive the vaccine. The minister, who oversees the fight against the virus, says it is a permanent race to save lives.
Although the immunization response is coordinated at the European level, each of the 27 members is responsible for setting its own strategy. The Netherlands will only start its immunization campaign on January 8.
As of Monday, more than 65,000 people had died from COVID-19 in France according data from Johns Hopkins University.