Neither a straight line nor a reverse. But still a «inflexion», a «adaptation», we say on the executive side. The goal: to put an end to the controversy that has been mounting all week. After that on surgical masks, then that of screening tests, it is the government’s vaccination strategy that is at the heart of questions and a communication battle. Because a week after the arrival of the first Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines, administered last Sunday in Sevran and Dijon, criticism is fired: too slow, not enough people vaccinated … But above all, an international comparison that stains: Wednesday, before the New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, 332 French people had been vaccinated against 130,000 Germans.
It was therefore time for the Head of State to make a point. During his televised greetings Thursday evening, Emmanuel Macron began by repeating what the members of the government have been saying since Monday: the choices behind this campaign are good. That is to say: go to the piano, go through the doctors, go and vaccinate in nursing homes and collect consents. “I will not let anyone play with safety and the right conditions, supervised by our scientists and our doctors, in which the vaccination must be done”, explained the President.
Except that after the justification arrived the pike, without knowing if it was intended for the gallery or addressed to the government and the health authorities: “I will not let more, for bad reasons, an unjustified slowness settle down: every French who wishes it must be able to be vaccinated.” If we take it at its word, however, that would mean that the strategy was not so perfect and that we stop with priority audiences. The equation is insoluble: proceed gradually so as not to point out anyone in a country where mistrust of vaccination is strong, or find yourself accused of delays in switching on.
“The strategy has not changed: priority is still given to the most vulnerable groups”, we maintain in the entourage of the Minister of Health, Olivier Véran. With the difference that we are now working twice as hard, proof that the government decided under pressure and the evolution of the situation. Just before the presidential vows, Véran announced on Twitter that caregivers over 50 could be vaccinated “In centers that already have vaccines” starting Monday. The battle for images started before: Friday, the kickoff was given at Ambroise-Paré hospital in Boulogne-Billancourt.
In government, we insist on the long term. There is no point in leaving quickly, we must meet the stated objective: 14 million vaccinated by May. “It’s a marathon, it’s not a sprint”, tries to reassure the Minister of Housing, Emmanuelle Wargon, on BFM TV, Friday. Still, the epidemic has been on a plateau for several weeks and the number of cases could explode after the end of the year holidays. Thursday, the Academy of Medicine denounced, in a press release, the “Excessive precautions” government and the start of the vaccination campaign “Seems to lack determination”. “We are moving in phases, replied Gabriel Attal on TF1 Friday. Once we have moved into a general public phase, we will be able to go faster. We receive the same doses as our German neighbors. But we don’t target the same people. ” During the first week of vaccination, 60,000 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine were delivered. “We will receive 500,000 next week, then 500,000 news each week, until the end of February”, one indicates to the Ministry of Health. Vaccination of voluntary caregivers will be carried out in establishments with equipment to store the vaccine, around 100 in France.
What is also changing is that France will finally open “City vaccination centers” where people aged 75 and over can be accommodated from February, then those aged 65 and over. Or ? The Ministry of Health would like town doctors, health centers and health centers to be mobilized. “The objective is to vaccinate the elderly as close as possible to where they live”, insists the minister’s entourage. Officially, the line has therefore not changed.