August 1, 2021

X-ray of a France in doubt

Vaccination curves that are leveling off, first appointment taking down, time slots available in certain centers: the vaccination campaign against Covid-19 seems to be stalling. Some see it as the approach of the famous “glass ceiling”, a limit as invisible as it is impassable on the road to collective immunity. Others bring back the specter of an “anti-ax” France, which hovered six months ago, before vanishing in the spring. But was this image of Pasteur’s country invaded by suspicion about these new vaccines developed in record time a reality?

The survey that two sociologists made public on June 10 on the preprint site MedRxiv, pending proper publication in a scientific journal, offers a more nuanced view.

Based on a large sample of more than 85,000 people, it reveals for the first time the real extent of the phenomena of rejection but also of hesitation in the face of anti-Covid-19 vaccines. Above all, it highlights its social determinants, the differences of gender, environment, political opinions in the construction of a position vis-à-vis the vaccine. She opens the passage of tracks on how to combat reluctance in the face of vaccination, so as to reduce social inequalities in health.

To carry out this survey, Nathalie Bajos, director of studies at Inserm, and Alexis Spire, director of research at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, relied on the EpiCoV cohort, which, since April 2020, has been monitoring some 135,000 people over the age of 15 on their journey through the pandemic.

By retaining the inhabitants of metropolitan France, adults – and therefore likely to decide on their own vaccination – and never having been diagnosed positive, they gathered a sample of 85,855 individuals, whom they interviewed in November 2020. The first vaccines messenger RNAs had therefore just proved their worth during the phase 3 trials. The supervisory authorities were preparing to approve them. “The situation has very probably changed since, the dynamic seems to have played in favor of vaccination, but this gives us a first image, which we will now follow”, explains Nathalie Bajos.

From December, however, the general skepticism described by the polls was not found in the in-depth investigation carried out by the two sociologists. They are only 13.9% to say that they will not go “Surely not get vaccinated” and 10.3% who do not think ” probably not “ receive the injection. Even if this proportion may seem high – nearly one in four French adults -, we are far from majority hostile to vaccination against Covid-19.

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