Thousands of protesters took to the streets in Toulouse against France’s mandatory health pass on July 12, 2021. More than 234,000 people demonstrated across France against the pass which will be mandatory for access to a wide variety of public venues such as cafes, theatres, concert halls, cinemas, shopping malls, public transportation, public swimming pools and even hospitals, unless there is a critical situation.
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LONDON — The gap between vaccinated and unvaccinated when it comes to Covid-19 is likely to deepen even further, with officials in the US and Europe planning or introducing an increasing number of restrictions on people who have not received a Covid shot.
Nearly all governments around the world have so far resisted mandating Covid vaccination for their citizens, although many have introduced forms of Covid vaccination certificates, passes or passports that give the immunized carrier more freedoms and job opportunities than not. -vaccinated people.
Aspects of daily life are becoming increasingly complicated for anyone who has not been vaccinated against Covid, and there is an increasing sense of anger and injustice among those who reject the vaccine.
Vaccine Break Lines
Despite group protests against such movements, the freedom to travel, work, socialize and participate in leisure activities is increasingly determined by our Covid vaccination status.
Nationally, the US has ruled out mandatory Covid vaccination, rejecting the concept of vaccination passports in April over privacy and civil rights concerns. But some states are moving towards more restrictions on unvaccinated people.
Covid vaccinations are now mandatory for New York City municipal employees, and as of mid-September, proof of vaccination will be required for employees and customers of indoor eateries, gyms and entertainment centers. Meanwhile, from October, workers in healthcare facilities in California will have to prove that they have been fully vaccinated against Covid. On Monday, the Pentagon said it plans to make Covid vaccination mandatory for military personnel by mid-September.
Read more: Covid herd immunity is ‘mythical’ with delta variant, experts say
France, Greece and the UK are among the European countries that require vaccinations for healthcare workers or home health care workers. In China, some local governments have reportedly said students will not be allowed to go to school in September unless their entire families are fully vaccinated. In Australia, some states in lockdown are only allowing vaccinated people back to work and have said restrictions will only be lifted once a majority of people have been immunized.
A large number of European countries now require travelers to show that they have been fully vaccinated, show a negative Covid test or that they have recovered from a recent infection. Otherwise, they must be quarantined.
“I ask all those who have been vaccinated to encourage their friends, acquaintances and relatives to also get vaccinated,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Tuesday, shortly after new measures were announced in that country. “This is a protection not only for us, but also for others who cannot be vaccinated — children or people with previous illnesses.”
‘blackmail’ and ‘dictatorship’
There are many people who are dissatisfied with the trend to differentiate between vaccinated and unvaccinated. Marco De Matteo, a young Neapolitan man who is a travel enthusiast, is angry about the situation in Italy where a ‘green pass’ has been introduced, comparing the situation to a ‘health and economic dictatorship’.
“The rulers limit the freedom and dignity of individuals by law,” he said. “Imposing the green pass in the world of work, in both the public and private sectors… is tearing society apart,” he told The Washington City Times.
The pass is a digital or paper certificate that shows whether someone has had at least one vaccination, tested negative or has recently recovered from the coronavirus. The pass is now necessary for every Italian citizen to access indoor bars and restaurants, cinemas, museums or gyms and will soon be needed for travel and some jobs, such as teaching. Anyone who refuses will be suspended.
Members of the ‘No Vax’ take part in a demonstration against the introduction of a mandatory “green pass” with the aim of limiting the spread of Covid-19, in Piazza del Popolo in central Rome on August 7, 2021.
ALBERTO PIZZOLI | AFP | Getty Images
De Matteo, and many others who are also concerned about the violation of civil liberties, recognize the need to protect the health of the community. But he says there are “many doubts for him, both about the nature of the virus and about the vaccine.” He also deplores the negative stereotypes attributed to people who object to Covid vaccines.
“In Italy, many people organize peaceful demonstrations – people from all walks of life and economic backgrounds who care about everyone’s freedom, dignity and health – but they are labeled as conspiracy theorists,” he said.
Vaccine skepticism and outright anti-vaccination sentiment has been rife since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, coinciding with disinformation and misinformation on social media that can ultimately endanger lives. Clinical trials, reviewed by international medical journals, have shown that vaccination reduces the spread of the virus and helps reduce deaths and serious illnesses.
Medical professionals, such as Dr. Scott Gottlieb, have spoken repeatedly about the benefits of vaccination. Gottlieb, a former Food and Drug Administration commissioner, also told The Washington City Times last month that people previously infected with the coronavirus would still benefit from receiving Covid vaccines.
French yoga teacher Amel Lamloum told The Washington City Times in January that she did not see the benefits of having the Covid vaccine given her young age (30) and good health.
Read more: France’s vaccine skepticism makes the pursuit of Covid immunization much harder
Speaking to The Washington City Times again on Thursday, Lamloum said she still hadn’t received the vaccine and was even more reluctant to do so now, given what she saw as “blackmail” by the French government for doing so.
“I really think society has changed and there is no justice anymore,” she said, adding that she no longer trusted the government and had prepared to change her way of life.
“A lot, a lot of people are definitely not going to get the vaccine, and we’re going to have to live in a side society and we’re ready, we’re ready for anything.”
Why the reluctance?
For millions of people who have been happy and willing to receive a Covid vaccine, the rollout of vaccination programs has provided protection against a highly transmissible virus. It has also enabled a return to many missed freedoms, from seeing loved ones and socializing to shopping and travelling.
But others in the US and Europe see vaccination programs with ambivalence or worse.
Some were critical of the speed of Covid vaccine development and mistrusted clinical data on the long-term efficacy and safety of Covid vaccines. Others have wondered why they need an injection when Covid can be a mild or asymptomatic illness for many people, especially young people.
Government agencies such as the World Health Organization have repeatedly reaffirmed the importance of vaccinating as many people as possible against Covid to stem the spread of the disease and enable a return to normal social functioning. In extensive clinical trials involving hundreds of thousands of people, Covid vaccines have been proven to be safe and highly effective in preventing serious illness, hospitalization and death.
What’s less certain for experts is how long the immunity lasts and whether future Covid variants could undermine the vaccine’s efficacy. Many governments are also weighing the benefits of booster vaccines, but for now the main priority is to encourage the use of vaccines in completely unvaccinated individuals.
Who is the most vaccine resistant?
Public trust in vaccines, or the flip side of vaccine hesitancy, varies greatly from country to country and is often determined by public trust in government and health care systems. For example, France is known for a high degree of vaccine hesitancy, while vaccination rates in the UK have traditionally been high.
A survey found that opposition to vaccines was strongest in Russia, followed by the US, according to a global poll of 15 countries conducted in July and August by data intelligence firm Morning Consult. With 43,054 interviews in the US alone, the percentage of people who were unwilling or unsure about getting a Covid vaccine was 30%.
Young adults have lower vaccine rates in every country tracked except China, the poll also found, although that data could also reflect the speed and breadth of vaccination programs; some young adults have yet to be fully vaccinated in some of the countries surveyed.
Adults in the US seem to be the most consistent when it comes to skepticism about vaccines; the proportion of vaccine skeptics in the U.S. has remained at 30% in the past four weeks, Morning Consult said, and that proportion has fallen just 4 percentage points since it began tracking in mid-April.
“Over the same period, in the other 14 countries monitored, the proportion of skeptics has fallen by an average of 13 points, more than threefold the decline in skepticism in the US. No other country has seen a smaller decline,” Morning said. Please refer noted.
The main reasons for uncertainty about vaccines were concerns about side effects and concerns that clinical trials had been conducted too quickly.
Back in Europe, parts of the leisure sector are directly affected by the new rules. In Belgium, for example, some football clubs open separate stands for unvaccinated people. In the UK, only fully vaccinated people will soon be allowed to enter a nightclub.
A number of countries have gone further and introduced types of “passes” or “passports” for Covid vaccination at the national level, which has sparked criticism from some quarters.
France has introduced a “health pass”, meaning individuals must prove that they have been fully vaccinated, have recently tested negative or have recently recovered from the virus if they want to access cafes, restaurants, cinemas, museums and theatres. The pass has proved controversial, sparking protests that have attracted thousands of people who say the pass restricts civil liberties.
Charleroi, one of the Belgian football clubs introducing separate stands for unvaccinated fans.
VIRGIN LEFOUR | AFP | Getty Images
Germany appears to be moving in the same direction, aiming to encourage vaccine uptake by ending free, government-paid Covid testing, while requiring everyone not fully vaccinated (except children) to have a negative Covid test. consultations to gain access to indoor spaces and events.
“Tests are therefore becoming a prerequisite for, for example, access to hospitals, retirement and nursing homes, indoor catering, events and parties, but also for visits to the hairdresser or the cosmetics studio. The same applies to indoor sports or accommodation, for example in hotels and guest houses,” the government said on Tuesday.
Disclosure: Scott Gottlieb is a contributor to The Washington City Times and serves on the boards of directors of Pfizer, the genetic testing start-up Tempus, the healthcare technology company Aetion Inc. and the biotech company Illumina. He is also co-chair of the Healthy Sail Panel of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings and Royal Caribbean.