'I won't take the risk': France leads the world in Covid-19 vaccine scepticism


Promising trial results have led to hopes that a Covid-19 vaccine is soon to be on the way. But will the vaccine prove effective if many refuse to take it? The question is worrying authorities in France where rates of 'vaccine hesitancy' are among the highest in the world.

A recent Ipos study found that just 54 percent of French people say they would get a Covid-19 vaccine if one were available, the lowest rate of any country surveyed.

"The acceptance of vaccination in general is lower in France than abroad, and even lower for Covid," Antoine Bristielle, a social sciences professor who has researched attitudes towards vaccines in France, told AFP.

"We notice that there is an age factor: the older people are, the more they tend to want to be vaccinated. There is also a gender factor since women consent less to the vaccine than men, and above all one of the important reasons for refusing vaccination is the strong mistrust of political institutions and mistrust of scientists."

Research has shown take up rates may need to be as high as 80 percent for a vaccine to put an end to the pandemic and some French politicians have suggested making the vaccine compulsory.

"I am in favour of compulsory vaccination if necessary," the President of the Senate Gérard Larcher said on French television recently. "When you get vaccinated, it's not just for yourself, it's a form of solidarity and protection for the whole of society."

Meanwhile, on the streets of the capital Paris on Thursday, opinion remained divided.

"Maybe there are side effects that we don't know yet, like the normal flu vaccine," said one woman, who declined to give her name. "We are still looking for a vaccine at all costs quickly, but doesn't mean it will be really effective. We don't know anything about it for the moment, so I won't take the risk, that's for sure."

"If they don't want to do it, they don't want to do it," said retiree Marie-France. "But I'll do it because I'm 66 years old. My health is fragile, and I'll do it."

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