PARADOX – The figures of the number of people vaccinated in France revealed, it appears that all regions are not progressing at the same rate. And those where the virus circulates the most happen to be those where we vaccinate the least …
– Audrey LE GUELLEC
As announced this weekend, the second anti-Covid vaccine authorized in Europe, Moderna, will be distributed as of Wednesday in France as a priority in regions where the virus is actively circulating. A first since the launch of this unprecedented vaccination campaign since no regional prioritization had been officially announced for the distribution of the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine.
Does this unexpected turn in the vaccination strategy deployed by the government mean that the number of people vaccinated will be there in the areas concerned? Not so sure.
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The world begins to vaccinate against Covid-19
Two weeks after the launch of the vaccination campaign, the government indeed unveiled this Monday the number of people who received the first dose of the vaccine in France, namely 138,351. Region by region, it emerges from this first stage that vaccination is not progressing at the same pace in the territory. And contrary to popular belief, it is not in the areas most affected by the epidemic that we vaccinate the most.
A paradox in Paca
For now, the regions most affected by the virus – and which will therefore receive the first 50,000 doses of Moderna’s anti-Covid-19 vaccine on Wednesday – are the Grand Est, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes and Provence-Alpes-Côte- d’Azur (Paca), said the Ministry of Health. However, according to the map of vaccinations in France, when we relate these figures to the number of inhabitants, the regions which have vaccinated the most for the moment happen to be Normandy (0.37% of the population) and Nouvelle-Aquitaine (0.31%), whose incidence rates are however much lower than the three regions mentioned above.
Among those hardest hit, Bourgogne-Franche-Comté is in fourth position of the territories having the most vaccinated (0.26%) while the Grand Est is in seventh position (0.21%) and the region Paca in 13th position, with only 0.13% of the population vaccinated. As a benchmark, the French average is 0.21%.
Delay in starting the campaign?
How to explain this paradox in Paca? Already, at the end of November, Renaud Muselier, president of the Region, warned of this possibility. “We have fallen behind on vaccination, we have to speed up. We can miss the start of a campaign, we can be wrong at the beginning, but we have no right to be wrong all the time“, he warned, calling on the government to rely on communities.
Tuesday, January 5, when it unveiled the schedule of the vaccination campaign planned in nursing homes in the region, the ARS Paca had defended itself against any setbacks. “The vaccination campaign has just started because supplies were scheduled for January”, justified the agency.
“The European context took us backwards. In addition, we had to wait for the validations of the vaccines. France is implementing its program as planned from the start”, insisted the director general of the ARS, Philippe De Mester. “Some people criticize us for being too careful, but we have to be careful with fragile audiences. We are in our timing.”
It should be noted, however, that of the 6,926 people vaccinated in Paca, more than 4,000 are residents of the Alpes-Maritimes who stand out from other departments by an earlier start of the vaccination campaign and a significant mobilization of the various actors (hospitals, cities, Ehpad, etc.).
The speeches of public figures involved?
But these first figures on vaccination in France also support the analysis of geographer Lucie Guimier. At the end of November, even before the arrival of the first vaccines, and the launch of the campaign, in a forum at the World titled “Between the north and the south of France, territorial disparities on opposition to vaccination”, the latter explained in particular that in the south of France, the role of doctors and political actors could explain the progression of skepticism towards anti-Covid vaccines.
“We see more and more often that dissident doctors or caregivers as well as political actors in search of voters play a role in the progression of this skepticism (…) The attention paid to antivaccines all too often erases responsibilities of certain influential actors in the manifestation of this mistrust“, she wrote, among others.
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“You might think that with the internet, everything is standardized. (…) But historically, vaccine refusal is rather anchored in the south“, she detailed a few days later to AFP, noting the case of Marseille. “The idea has grown stronger that it is a rebellious city against the central state. It is quite dangerous in terms of public health.”
As a reminder, in September, Samia Ghali, second assistant to the town hall, had notably stated that she would refuse the vaccine. And Lucie Guimier to emphasize: “Anti-vaccine rhetoric from public figures does a lot of damage. People are like, ‘They’re in power, they know what’s behind it.’
Audrey LE GUELLEC
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