Reluctant French citizens queued up to get vaccinated as officials prepared to make the necessary health pass for entering restaurants, trains, and other areas more stringent.
Citizens must present the pass in public areas starting this week, demonstrating that they have been vaccinated or have recently been tested negative for the coronavirus.
While police were instructed to be tolerant the first week, the government has promised to make health pass inspections more stringent beginning the 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 center 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 centers 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 people in France have had at least one vaccination, with an uptick following President Emmanuel Macron’s speech on July 12 in which he announced the health pass and mandatory immunization for health staff.
However, as France prepares for its fifth weekend of widespread protests over the health pass, public suspicion in the vaccine and the government’s Covid policy remains high.
“I didn’t want to be vaccinated because, despite everything, I believe the vaccine was developed swiftly. We don’t have any proof of the dangers it may pose to our health over time “M’Baraka remarked.