By Shweta Desai
PARIS (AA) - Amid growing anti-vaccine protests in France by young people, the country’s head of the state engaged with vaccine skeptics Monday on social media, debunking popular myths and exhorting them to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
On the sidelines of his official holiday break at the Fort de Bregancon presidential retreat in the south of France, where he is vacationing with his wife Brigitte, President Emmanuel Macron -- dressed in a casual black T-shirt -- posted a video on his Instagram account with 2.5 million followers and on TikTok addressing opponents of the vaccine and inviting them to post direct questions.
“I know amongst you there are those who are questioning, those who are scared, have heard wrong rumors or believe in absurd information. So I’ve decided to answer your questions directly. Ask me anything, and I will try to be as clear and direct as possible,” he said in the video, which has over 181 million likes and 19,000 comments, with several users writing questions.
Currently, over 42 million people in France have received one shot of the vaccine and over 35 million are fully vaccinated.
To curb the resumption of the fourth wave of the pandemic in view of the rising circulation of the Delta variant of the virus, the Macron administration introduced a bill in parliament mandating health passes showing proof of being vaccinated, recovered or testing negative for COVID-19 for those wishing to enter places such as restaurants, cafes and shopping centers as well as public transport. The bill also makes it obligatory for health workers at medical centers to be vaccinated.
These anti-COVID measures have divided the French population, with thousands protesting against it.
In the second video, Macron responded to a comment from a user who said “if one is young and in good health, there is no need to get vaccinated.”
Macron said that even with good health, young people have been admitted to the emergency room or have suffered from long COVID with symptoms of fatigue and breathlessness that can last for months on end.
“Finally, you don’t take vaccines just for yourself but for your family...because the vaccine protects your parents, grandparents and friends too. Do the vaccination for others also.”
In the third video, he addressed another popular notion that vaccines are not safe and 100% effective and one can still fall sick. He said the vaccines are approved by scientists everywhere in the world and suggest high efficiency.
“The numbers show that 85% of people currently hospitalized in France with COVID-19 are unvaccinated. It is true that there is no zero risk, but when you get vaccinated, you tremendously reduce the risk of getting COVID. Vaccines save lives, COVID kills.”