European countries increase pressure on unvaccinated people

French President Emmanuel Macron is known as a shrewd politician, and he carefully calibrates his public statements. So when he used some harsh language this week to talk about how his government should treat those who choose not to get the COVID-19 vaccine, almost no one explained it as a slip of the tongue.

Throughout Western Europe—Like most parts of the world, Western Europe is dealing with the spread of Omicron’s wildfires, Highly infectious coronavirus variants -If able, people who are hesitant about vaccines are facing increasing official pressure to vaccinate them. This triggered a fierce backlash.

In one European country after another, public health restrictions are Tighten steadily. Italy announced the vaccination of people over 50 years of age. The largest party in the German ruling coalition stated that it will decide at the end of March whether to try to implement universal vaccination.

Austria plans to strengthen the implementation of existing measures to prohibit unvaccinated people from entering many public places.British Prime Minister Boris Johnson wants to maintain voluntary vaccinations, but on Thursday attacked what he said “Mumbo-jumbo” spread on social media By anti-vaccine activists.

As the pandemic enters its third year, public frustration — and unwillingness to use the lockdown as a tool to stop the spread of the virus — has brought intense debate on how the world’s most developed economies should proceed to the next phase. debate.And the debilitating battle against infectious diseases that have spread Killed more than 5.4 million people worldwide.

In France, Omicron is Case record Although more than 90% of people over the age of 12 have received at least two doses of the vaccine. This helps to incentivize the French House of Commons to approve stricter requirements on Thursday to obtain passes to bars, restaurants, movie theaters and other indoor public places.

If the French House of Lords approves this measure, which may occur next week, a negative test for the coronavirus will no longer be sufficient. In order to participate in most forms of public life-attending concerts and sporting events, boarding planes, and long-distance train rides-starting from January 15th, people need to prove that they have received the full recommended dose of the vaccine.

The French president facing the April election triggered an outcry on Tuesday when he was in a forum with readers of The Parisian newspaper, Rough barnyard epithet It is intended to express his desire to further restrict the unvaccinated people from entering public life to cause strong annoyance.

Macron said: “When my freedom threatens the freedom of others, I will become an irresponsible person, and an irresponsible person is not a citizen.”

Some of Macron’s compatriots did not agree with this sentiment, including the lawyer Samir Kahoul, who was happy to line up for the injection, but questioned whether the unvaccinated people are actually low-class citizens. Hesitate.

Cahul, who lives on the outskirts of Paris, said: “We attribute all the blame for this disaster to a faction in the population.” “Compulsory vaccines will not be so hypocritical.”

In Germany, many People who choose not to be vaccinated The report therefore felt ostracized by society. Some women who do not want to be vaccinated are even speeding up their plans to start a family and take government paid maternity leave to avoid being vaccinated as required by their employers.

Dagmar Rossner, a gynecologist practicing outside Berlin, said that several of her patients hoped that the employer’s vaccinations requirements would be eased after returning from a one-year maternity leave. Part of the salary will be paid by the state.

“Anyway, they wanted to start a family at some point, but because of all the pressure, they decided to start now,” she said. “Some of my unvaccinated patients say they feel unwelcome almost everywhere.”

German authorities report that a thriving underground market allows those trying to bypass restrictions to forge vaccination certificates. In Berlin, the police reported that more than 1,100 such forged documents were confiscated last year and charged those who tried to use them. According to German news reports, criminal groups charge 200 to 300 euros (approximately 225 to 340 US dollars) for these fakes.

Many Germans remember their history Under communism and Nazi rule, Is also disturbed by the future national registry of vaccination, saying it runs counter to the country’s cherished data privacy laws.

Although the anti-vaccine movement is relatively small, its intensity has increased, and protests sometimes turn into violence. On Monday, more than 35,000 people participated in the protest, which resulted in the police being hit by bottles and incendiary bombs.

Demonstrators at Alexanderplatz in Berlin

On Monday, protesters against the authorization of the universal COVID-19 vaccine gathered at Alexanderplatz in Berlin.

(Michael Thorne/Associated Press)

In many countries, such as the United States, the debate about vaccines is becoming more and more politicized.Macron’s vulgarity is ironically echoed Eric Zemmour, the far-right presidential candidate, Who told the radio network RTL Thursday’s better targets would be criminal leaders and drug dealers.

The news reached voters such as Jean Galen, a real estate developer in southwestern France, who said he had received the first two injections but rejected the booster. He was angry and worried about the idea of ​​a fourth shooting, which some French officials hinted at was a possibility.

“Our social life will depend on multiple doses,” he said. “This is unacceptable.”

Referring to the matrix barcode used in the vaccination certification application, he said, “I don’t want to be a QR code.”

However, Macron’s allies insisted that the president’s representatives had enough to speak. Prime Minister Jean Castex told BFM TV on Thursday that Macron can “speak out a lot of people’s inner thoughts” and describe vaccination as a capable person, which is a kind of “civic awareness”. attitude.

On Wednesday, government spokesman Gabriel Attal adopted a similar strategy with reporters.

“Frankly: Who is messing up whose life today?” he asked. “It’s those who oppose vaccines.”

Special correspondent El-Faizy is from Paris, and King is from Washington. Erik Kirschbaum, special correspondent in Berlin, contributed to this report.