Covid-19: why France has finally converted to vaccinodromes

The Stade de France is due to host a giant vaccination center from April, a device initially hated by the government. But the need to accelerate the vaccine strategy decided otherwise.

After the Marseille velodrome, the Stade de France opens its doors in early April to a sport of a new kind: mass vaccination against Covid-19. More than 2,000 people a day can be vaccinated from April in the Blues enclosure, Saint-Denis town hall said on Friday March 19.

The establishment in gymnasiums or stadiums of giant vaccination centers has long been reviled by the government, which categorically refused to integrate vaccinodromes into its vaccination strategy. However, they are flourishing today: after the Marseille velodrome, the Nice exhibition center has finally converted to vaccination, just like the Zénith de Toulon, open since last week. In Calais, Boulogne-sur-Mer and Béthune in Pas-de-Calais, three vaccinodromes have been deployed, when another is expected by the end of the month in Poitiers.

So far, the idea seemed to be proscribed. “I really believe in proximity, and in the knowledge of health professionals on whom we can rely”, affirmed at the beginning of January Olivier Véran, specifying that he did not support the idea of “Large stadiums in which thousands of people would line up in the middle of winter.” The idea rejected the entire political sphere. “Rebuilding trust requires human ties, especially with general practitioners and pharmacists” affirmed the ecologist Guillaume Gontard according to Public Senate, when Bruno Belin, senator attached to LR, categorically refused the principle by recalling that “All medical acts must be solemn.”

Total turnaround

How to explain this turnaround? If the government wants to meet its objectives of vaccinating 10 million people by mid-April, and 30 million in mid-June, we will have to vaccinate hard. “The diversification of the profile of vaccinators and the increase in the number of health professionals carrying out the injections will not make it possible to absorb all the flow of doses that will arrive in the spring”, indicates Alain Fischer, “Mr. vaccine of the government”, March 6 at JDD . “A reflection is underway (…) around the number of vaccination centers, but also their size. “The option of vaccinodromes had never been ruled out, but until now we had limited supplies for a fragile and small audience”, indicates for its part the Ministry of Health to the weekly. “When we have passed the milestone of one million doses delivered per week, we will have to multiply the channels and resize the vaccination centers.”

The originally cautious government

Public opinion also seems more ready for an industrialized vaccination than last December, when 61% of French people did not intend to be vaccinated. “When I called for the establishment of vaccinodromes using private logisticians or the military, the government dismissed the idea very contemptuously, arguing that people would not go and that it would be a failure”, recalls Philippe Juvin, head of emergencies at the Pompidou hospital in Paris and mayor of Garenne Colombes, in Yvelines, where a vaccination center has been welcoming 500 people per week since January. “Vaccinodromes are scary because the collective imagination has remained blocked on the fiasco of the H1N1 flu”, recalls Jocelyn Raude, sociologist at the Rennes School of Public Health Studies (EHESP) and specialist in health controversies. “General practitioners had been ousted from the vaccination campaign and this had generated great suspicion among the population and caregivers. Chain vaccination, on an industrial scale, can frighten politicians ”, he explains.

But in the face of criticism raised by the heaviness and confusion of the vaccine strategy, France ultimately has little choice but to return to mass vaccination. “The individualization of vaccination, where the caregiver receives the patient one by one to discuss, is complex, slow, and cumbersome. Today, the strategy is slipping “, notes Jocelyn Raude. “This is the solution adopted by countries all over the world, from Germany to Israel. You have to vaccinate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week “, continues Philippe Juve. “But a vaccinodrome is not just walls. It is above all a well-established organization, in particular to simplify red tape, particularly in the recruitment of vaccinators. “

Is it still necessary that the number of doses follow? Meanwhile, the government remains cautious and avoids the term: “We prefer to talk about ephemeral vaccination centers”, Matignon shade in the JDD .


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