Wednesday, January 20

Vaccine mistrust, the other epidemic that is spreading in France

Lina (first name changed) will not be vaccinated against Covid-19. She did not do the compulsory vaccines for her 6 month old baby: she managed to obtain false certificates, which is illegal.

This 32-year-old artist says she met a young man with a disability a few years ago “because of a vaccine“. And since she became a mother, she has”informed“. She has “sailed“on the internet, watched YouTube channels, talked with friends. About the coronavirus,”we all feel like we’re not really telling the truth“, she blurted out.

Lina is one of the most radical among anti-vaccines, but this heterogeneous group has seen its ranks grow in recent years. In mid-2019, a global survey concluded that France was the country most skeptical about vaccines: one in three French people did not believe they were safe.

And according to an Ifop poll published Sunday by the JDD, 59% of French people do not intend to “get vaccinated (against the coronavirus) when it becomes possible“.

Yet there was a “strong adhesion“to vaccines in France, according to Jocelyn Raude, social psychologist at the school of higher studies in public health.”tilting“took place in 2009, with”the fiasco“H1N1 flu: millions of people were vaccinated when the disease turned out to be fairly mild. Then there was the Mediator drug scandal, in which the health authorities were implicated.

Anti-vaccine figures have emerged: Professor Henri Joyeux is the best known. In 2014 and 2015, he published anti-vaccine petitions on the internet. He organizes conferences: in 2017, he denounces “the vaccine dictatorship“. “Often invited on TV, he gave credibility“to anti-vaccines, explains Jocelyn Raude.

– “Unimaginable bonanza” –

The coronavirus has increased the notoriety of other personalities, whose false claims are regularly dismantled by AFP.

Among the most followed, with more than 500,000 subscribers to his YouTube channel, Thierry Casasnovas. This crudivore follower of the fast shows in the course of his videos that “the disease does not exist“and that we can do without conventional medical treatments.

He is close to the Belgian Jean-Jacques Crèvecoeur, whose video “Coronavirus – submit or stand up“was viewed over 800,000 times on YouTube, which deleted it.

There is also an ex-pharmacist, Serge Rader. “Seven billion people to be vaccinated is an unimaginable jackpot! (…) All this fear voluntarily brought into the minds of people so that at a given moment, we accept the life-saving vaccine“, he blurted out on Sud Radio.

Actor-humorist Jean-Marie Bigard asked on Facebook: “Me, I will not be vaccinated, I do not feel it and you?In the comments, a long series of anti-vaccine comments.

Reality starlet Kim Glow is also enjoying some success. At the beginning of November, she claimed that the vaccine would allow us to inject a chip: “it will work with 5G“, she assured, wrongly.

The vaccine is the theme that brings together the conspirators the most“, explains Antoine Bristielle, associate professor in social sciences.

But vaccine mistrust also affects people simply worried about possible side effects. Antoine Bristielle warns them against “the many deceptive websites“.

It is not known who is behind certain sites. They ape official sites to create confusion and give themselves some form of credibility“, explains Jocelyn Raude. The health authorities have paid, he says,”to have a better referencing of their sites on Google vis-à-vis vaccine-critical sites“.

Geographer Lucie Guimier notes regional disparities. “You might think that with the internet, everything is standardized. (…) But historically, vaccine refusal is rather anchored in the south“. She notes the case of Marseille:”the idea was reinforced that it was a rebellious city against the central state. It’s quite dangerous in terms of public health“.

Samia Ghali, second mayor deputy, said in September that she would refuse the vaccine.

The anti-vaccine speeches of public figures do a lot of damage. People say to themselves: + They are in power, they know what is behind +“, worries Lucie Guimier.



Pierre Assouline, journalist, writer, Goncourt academician and columnist for L'Express.By Pierre Assouline

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