How France overcame COVID vaccine hesitancy

The success of the French campaign is such that the government has floated the idea of loosening in parts of the country some of the restrictions it put on this summer. Notably, that includes the requirement to show a health pass with the holder’s vaccine status or test results to eat out, go to nightclubs or attend sports events. On Sept. 22, France announced plans to end the requirements for children to wear masks in primary schools in some parts of the country.

More than 14 million people in France have received a first vaccine dose in the 11 weeks since the government enacted the health pass to enter many public spaces and said the vaccine would become mandatory for health workers and other staff in hospitals and nursing homes. Some 88% of people over 12 years old in France have received at least one shot of vaccine, more than the U.S., U.K. or Germany. Its infection rate is now below 61 cases per 100,000 people, compared with 241 cases per 100,000 in the U.S. as of Sept. 24. The French figure is declining by more than one-quarter each week, with deaths and hospitalizations falling, too…

Initially there was resistance to the health pass, and there are still reservations about legally requiring some groups of people to get Covid-19 shots. Implemented in August, the pass system requires people who want to do everything from sit at a Parisian cafe to take a high-speed train to show a scannable code proving complete vaccination against Covid-19, recovery from Covid-19 or a recent negative test. Nationwide protests against the initiative at times attracted more than 200,000 people.

But it also spurred millions of people to get vaccinated, which French officials credit with curbing the spread of the Delta variant, while holdouts in the health sector appear to be coming around, too.