In the role of ambassadors of mass vaccination in France, all that is missing is Michel Platini, Zinédine Zidane and Kylian Mbappé. Since this weekend, several football stadiums, including those in Lyon and Saint-Denis, north of Paris, have become immunization centers supervised in part by the army, are now mobilized on the front lines of the pandemic.
Logic: to achieve the goal set by Emmanuel Macron of a fully vaccinated population at the end of the summer, the French authorities must use great means. At least 35 “vaccinodromes”, mostly in urban areas, began to open on Saturday. Initial objections to the “complicated logistics” imposed by them were lifted by resorting to the military, modeled on what happened in the UK. Some will be managed by the Public Assistance which brings together, in France, public hospitals.
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The effectiveness of these vaccinodromes will of course depend on the number of vaccine doses available. However, according to the government, this should increase at high speed in the coming weeks. 13,660,090 doses have been received to date in France, according to the website (Covidtracker.fr) of the Ministry of Health. 12 million doses are expected in April, and 15 million in May, a figure however lower for this month than the 17.7 million announced. Expected result: France should have 10 million first-time vaccines in mid-April, 20 million in mid-May and 30 million at the end of June. These vaccinodromes, often installed in sports or cultural complexes (concert halls) where the entrances and exits are already arranged, will allow each to carry out “at least a thousand vaccinations per day” according to the ministry. However, the vaccination strategy according to age groups is maintained: only those over 70 and risk categories (co-morbid factors, nursing staff, etc.) are now assigned an appointment for a first injection. .
The most symbolic vaccinodrome is undoubtedly the Stade de France located in Saint-Denis, north of Paris, in the department of Seine-Saint-Denis, classified for several weeks as one of the most contaminated in France. The incidence rate (proportion of infected people) there reached 794 per 100,000 on Tuesday, only exceeded by the Val-d’Oise with 829 per 100,000. Difficult, therefore, to escape the symbol: the sports arena which sheltered the victory of the “Blues” at the 1998 World Cup will it be, in the coming weeks, the scene of a resounding vaccination revenge while 9,356,301 French out of 52 million – against 26 million Britons – have, for the hour, received a first injection (3.1 million have already received two)?
“We will do more than 10,000 vaccinations per week”, promised, Monday, during a press briefing given live from the spans of the stadium, the boss of the Regional Health Agency (ARS) of Ile-de-France , Aurélien Rousseau. A figure that speaks to the stakes: in order to be able to vaccinate the entire population by the end of August 2021 – a deadline promised by Emmanuel Macron in his televised intervention of March 31 – 576,266 doses must be inoculated each day.
The use of vaccinodromes is not presented by the authorities as a panacea, but as an essential device for “ramping up”. France had initially refused these mega-centers – set up from the start in Germany -, preferring to focus on retirement homes and arguing that this strategy had failed during the H1N1 flu in 2009. Only 20% of the population had then moved.
Radical change today, due to the health emergency – 197 deaths from covid in the last 24 hours, 5,433 cases in intensive care and 10,793 new cases of contamination, down sharply compared to last week – but above all from the need to reopen the country when the travel restriction measures expire on April 26, with the expected resumption of “face-to-face” schools. The other reason put forward is the fight against vaccine “wastage”: “The obsession of ARS Ile-de-France is to use immediately and make available all the doses”, explained Aurélien Rousseau to France Info . The only downside: the alarm signal given by elected officials in rural areas, worried about seeing vaccine supplies concentrate around these vaccinodromes, which are more accessible to urban populations.
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