“It does not hurt, we must not be afraid”: the French vaccination campaign against the Covid was symbolically launched Sunday, December 27 in two hospitals for the elderly in Sevran, in Seine-Saint-Denis, then in Dijon, where residents and caregivers received the first doses of the vaccine.

Emmanuel Macron welcomed the start of the campaign, which took place simultaneously in most of the countries of the European Union. “We have a new weapon against the virus: the vaccine. Hold together, again,” wrote the head of state in a series of tweets.

He recalled that the vaccine was free and not compulsory and estimated that in “the land of the Enlightenment and Pasteur, reason and science must guide us.” A majority of French people (56%) do not plan to be vaccinated against Covid-19, according to a BVA poll published on Sunday by the JDD.

Read also: Covid: 17 million French people could be vaccinated by June

Mauricette, the first French vaccine

“I am moved,” said the first French vaccine, Mauricette, a 78-year-old former housekeeper, who received the vaccine at the end of the morning in the long-term care unit of the René-Muret hospital. de Sevran, public assistance establishment – Paris Hospitals (AP-HP).

“I’m ready for the test!”, She had launched before the injection of Comirnaty developed by the American Pfizer and the German BioNTech, the first messenger RNA vaccine “put on the market in the world to be so. human “, according to the Ministry of Health.

Five vaccinated in total

A 65-year-old cardiologist working in this establishment, Dr Jean-Jacques Monsuez, then also received a first dose, which will be followed by a second injection in 21 days.

In Dijon, at the beginning of the afternoon, it was Alain Salmon, 92, resident of the nursing home in Champmaillot, who was injected with the vaccine in front of cameras and photographers, followed by Professor Pierre Jouanny, geriatrician, for end up with Daniel Edouard, 80, a former truck driver.

“It does not hurt, we must not be afraid, those who hesitate they must not hesitate”, noted the nonagenarian patient, to whom a resident of Dijon had offered a bouquet of flowers and the CHU – on which the nursing home depends – Chocolates.

“Fixed ideas on vaccination”

Wearing a purple badge “Against the flu, I get vaccinated. And you?”, A memory of a previous vaccination campaign, Professor Jouanny hoped that the injection he received “will serve as an example to other caregivers who hesitate “.

Daniel Edouard, he did not procrastinate. “I already had my thoughts on vaccination,” said the octogenarian resident, speaking of a “serious” illness.

Prior consultations with future vaccinees had taken place on Saturday and Sunday morning, in particular to obtain their consent. People had the possibility “until the last moment” to give up vaccination, according to the Dijon University Hospital.

A million vaccinated this winter

The government has set by the end of February the goal of one million vaccinated among the oldest and most vulnerable, individuals and caregivers, in 7,000 nursing homes and similar establishments.

The vaccine, sent on Saturday, December 27 in France under good escort, was particularly expected in France, where the epidemic has killed more than 62,700 people and where the virus is actively circulating. More than 8,800 cases have been recorded in the past 24 hours, an insignificant figure in the middle of the weekend after Christmas, but it rose to 20,000 on December 24 and 25.

95% protection thanks to the vaccine

“We cannot afford to let the epidemic flare up again,” the Minister of Health, Olivier Véran, warned in the Sunday Journal. Asked about the possibility of a third confinement, he said he was ready to take “the necessary measures, if the situation were to worsen”.

“This vaccine protects 95% of individuals against severe cases and will save a lot of lives,” said the minister, satisfied to be able “to start protecting the most fragile among us”.

15 million vaccinated this summer?

After the structures for the elderly, vaccination will be offered to “all retirees over 65” until the spring, then to the rest of the population aged 16 and over.

The government hopes to have vaccinated “15 million people by this summer,” Matignon said on Saturday.

Read also: Covid: vaccines would remain effective despite the virus mutation

Vaccine and new variant?

Will vaccination be effective in the face of new strains of the coronavirus? Everything suggests “that (existing) vaccines are effective on these mutants”, reassured the Directorate General of Health (DGS) on Saturday.

The question arises all the more acutely since the French authorities had confirmation, on Christmas Eve, of what they had feared for several days: the presence of the British variant of the virus on their territory, in Tours.

Similar contaminations have been reported in Germany, Lebanon, Denmark, but also in Italy, Sweden, Spain, Japan and Canada. According to studies presented in the UK, the new variant is more contagious than the original strain. But there is no evidence at this stage that it causes more serious forms of the disease.