Jean Castex and Emmanuel Macron, November 11, 2020 in Paris. – Ludovic MARIN / AFP / POOL
- As the Covid-19 vaccination campaign has started in the United States, Joe Biden said he would be vaccinated “in public, as soon as possible”.
- An American commitment that contrasts with the general silence of French politicians on the subject.
- “The fact of seeing a political leader who is vaccinated in front of the cameras, it is extremely important, it allows to calm the concerns”, affirms the communicator Philippe Chevrolet Moreau.
Joe Biden, Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Queen Elizabeth II, Pedro Sanchez… These political leaders have in common that they have agreed to be vaccinated against Covid-19, some in public. In France, the debate is gradually taking hold of the French political class, which is more mixed. Should leaders be vaccinated to set an example for a France divided on the issue of vaccination?
The last time we saw a French politician get vaccinated live, it was Roselyne Bachelot in 2009, against the H1N1 flu. Asked ten years later on the set of Jean-Jacques Bourdin, the Minister of Culture did not specify whether she would start the exercise again. “What I recommend anyway is to get vaccinated and I will get vaccinated … if I am in the priority audience. I’m not asking for a pass, ”she said.
Olivier Véran, first vaccinated?
Same story with Jean Castex in an interview with The Independent : “I would gladly have been vaccinated from the start of the campaign, as an example. But I would not like this to be interpreted as a freebie in relation to the priorities established by the Haute Autorité de santé ”.
According to information from Parisian, no precise instructions were given to ministers. Only one of them could take the plunge: the Minister of Health, Olivier Véran. On the other hand, the former Prime Minister Edouard Philippe and the president of the Ile-de-France region Valérie Pécresse volunteered, unlike Jean-Luc Mélenchon, that “this vaccine does not (…) reassure” . On the far right, the president of RN Marine Le Pen, also a candidate for the Elysee Palace, will be vaccinated but leaves the French “free” to do so or not.
A mixed political class, which “corresponds to the state of opinion which is shared”, explains Philippe Moreau Chevrolet, communicator and author of the comic strip President (Ed. Des Arènes), in reference to French skepticism about vaccines, one of the strongest in the world. “With politicians, they are also strategies: we express doubts and fears to try to say ‘we are careful’. Politics follows very short-term tactics and obviously, we are not at the level of responsibility for the historical sense of the Americans, who understood that we were living in a historic moment and that we would have to set an example. ”
In France, few politicians have expressed their wish to be vaccinated “for example”. Including at the top of the state, where the answer remains ambiguous. “I will do it when it makes sense and it fits our strategy,” replied Emmanuel Macron during his interview on Brut.
Avoid political war in the midst of a health crisis
“Even the president evacuates the question by saying that it is not the priority”, comments Philippe Moreau Chevrolet. “It asks a lot of questions about the French political class. It is now that Macron or Mélenchon could show that they are historical leaders, real great leaders, ”he says. “A health communication battle is won on the undecided, who do not necessarily have an opinion, who wonder if they can trust the vaccine. The fact of seeing a political leader who is vaccinated in front of the cameras is extremely important, it helps allay concerns. ”
Doesn’t this solution, whose image is powerful, risk becoming a field of political confrontation? For Marie-Aline Bloch, researcher in management sciences at EHESP, specialist in the health system, this pitfall can be avoided “by also vaccinating great doctors and great scientists, who are authorities in their field. It would be a sign, ”she explains.
Physiological serum and retractable needle
Not just politicians, therefore, but caregivers and ambassadors likely to be able to speak to certain groups, such as young people, “to try to make them understand the interest that this has for them and for the general population”, adds the researcher. . “And why not the collective of citizens on the vaccine set up by the government? », She pleads.
More pedagogy, less media coverage. All the more so as public vaccinations are often diverted by conspiratorial networks. Roselyne Bachelot was also surprised in 2009 that she was accused of having been vaccinated “with physiological serum and that there was no active substance in the injection”, a- she called back on BFMTV. In recent weeks on social networks, the video of a retractable cinema syringe has excited the imagination of those who sow doubt.
“Conspirators don’t believe in vaccination any more than they believe in politics. We will never convince them, ”slice Philippe Moreau Chevrolet, before pointing to another benefit of public vaccination for the rest of the French. “This will send the signal for an end to the crisis, a hope for the French who have been hit hard by the crisis, with one in five people in a state of depression. Politicians must not miss this sequence, they must get vaccinated, and quickly. ”
Politicians, caregivers and leaders have until the last week of December to make up their minds, the date on which vaccination should begin in France, announced Jean Castex on Wednesday.