There is no point in running, you have to start on time. The famous adage applies well to vaccination in France: the country has, since Wednesday, a percentage of vaccination coverage higher than that of the United Kingdom, but also of Israel and the United States, three countries long seen as leaders and precursors in terms of vaccination rhythm. France now counts 71.3% of the total population having received at least one dose of vaccine, and 63.3% of complete vaccination (against 63% in the United Kingdom, 60.4% in Israel and 52.5% in United States).
For months, these three countries had such a lead over France that the latter seemed unable to catch up with the gap. According to data from Our World in Data, as of April 1, for example, Israel had 58.1% of its population first vaccinated, the United Kingdom 47%, the United States 30.3% and France only 13.6 %. Even on June 1, France had less than 40% of first-time vaccines against more than 60% in Israel and the United Kingdom, and more than 50% in the United States.
The sanitary pass, the anti-glass ceiling
Obviously, the health pass played an important role in this comeback. By making vaccination or negative tests mandatory to go to daily places such as trains, bars, gyms and restaurants in his speech of July 12, Emmanuel Macron has totally boosted the vaccination campaign in France. Prime Minister Jean Castex evoked this Thursday the figure of 12 million vaccinated in the summer of 2021 alone, or 18% of the total population of the country. “As soon as the extension of the health pass was announced, there was an influx of people into the centers”, testifies the doctor and vaccinator Christian Lehmann.
An influx which made it possible to avoid a dreaded effect in any vaccination campaign, the glass ceiling. Once all very willing people are vaccinated, vaccination greatly slows down the time to convince the skeptics, the recalcitrant and the hard-to-reach people. We see in the vaccination campaigns of all countries that the curve begins to weaken between 50 and 60% vaccination, and borders on the flat as we approach 70%. Because despite all the merits of France to maintain a strong pace, catching up with the United Kingdom or Israel has above all been possible because their own vaccinations have slowed down considerably. Thus, the last two months, the British have first vaccinated only 6% of their population, and Israel 2%.
Decline in antivax and collective immunity
Beyond the health pass, other explanations can be put forward. Already, the major decline of, more and more noisy but in reality more and more minority. Doctor Franck Clarot analyzes: “We often complain about the politicization of vaccination, but antivax drugs have also become very politicized. When the leaders of a movement are Philippot or Dupont-Aignan, it can cause people to question the movement. “
The caregiver also notes a better knowledge of the population about the vaccine and therefore less distrust of it: “The French have made inquiries in recent months, the media have relayed less anti-ax speech and caregivers have made a big educational work. “
France may also have benefited from its slowness. For months, the vaccines were not open to part of the vaccination, “which could have created a lack and therefore envy”, suggests Franck Clarot. Also, the end of the dream of collective immunity, made almost obsolete by the Delta variant, “pushes everyone to protect themselves. There is no longer this idea that we will use the vaccination of others to protect ourselves, ”analyzes the doctor.
The country has also constantly found itself in a state of emergency. The vaccine campaign was still in progress when the Delta variant caused a significant epidemic rebound in July. Moreover, from that moment, and even before the extension of the health pass, primary vaccinations increased again because of the health situation.
“Unlike the British, for example, who are slacking off everything, the Minister of Health Olivier Véran is keeping a cautious tone at the moment. He does not say that the game is settled or that all is well, he even mentions confinement if not enough vaccinations… ”, continues Franck Clarot. This energization is essential to maintain a good vaccination rhythm. Christian Lehmann recalls that at the beginning of the summer, the extension of the duration between the two doses up to nine weeks as well as the deconfinement had been seen as so many signals that the vaccination was no longer urgent, and had caused a significant slowdown.
Youth must be vaxed
When we look by age group, France does not have such a high rate of vaccinated elderly people compared to other nations. More than 10% of them have not received the slightest dose, which remains a relatively high figure.
Where France is one of the leaders in terms of vaccination is its youth. 82% of 18-29 year olds have received at least one dose, and already 60% of 12-17 year olds. And no, not everything is due to the health pass. 50% of young people over 18 had already been vaccinated for the first time at the time of its extension.
“Youth are the population which has seen their social life the most impacted by the coronavirus. We feel that it is ready to mobilize to avoid reliving the restrictions and wants to be active in the fight against the epidemic. She is very responsible for vaccination, whether for herself or for others, ”enthuses Franck Clarot.
This symbolic overtaking of the former vaccine leader countries should not embellish everything. Christian Lehmann recalls that the vaccine campaign suffered from many government hiccups and was especially carried at arm’s length by exhausted caregivers: “I don’t care a little about the comparisons between countries and cocoricos, I’m just happy that France is massively vaccinated, telling me it saved tens of thousands of lives. But all the same, it took a crazy amount of energy to drag the plow of vaccination. »Plow arriving little by little.