The French government on Wednesday urged better protection of vaccine centers after some two dozen acts of vandalism were recorded against COVID-19 related facilities over the last month alone.
The warning comes after high tensions over recent weeks as tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets to rally against President Emmanuel Macron’s health pass policy which aims to encourage vaccination.
Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin sent a letter to senior local authority officials at the request of Macron seen by AFP in which he urged French police to mobilize to ensure better protection for vaccine centers across the country.
According to the interior ministry, some 22 acts of vandalism against testing and vaccination centers as well as pharmacies have been recorded since July 12 alone. Almost 60 threats have also been recorded.
In mid-July, a vaccination center in Lans-en-Vercors in southeast France was flooded with a hosepipe, causing damage to equipment. Slogans such as “vaccinations are the new genocide” were found daubed on the walls.
Last weekend in the city of Toulouse a piece of paper was found at a vaccination Centre warning that “one day this will all be blown up.”
In a letter to health workers, Health Minister Olivier Veran said: “I will not accept any violence, any intimidation, any attack on your physical integrity or professional equipment. To attack our health professionals.”
The protests over the last four weekends have mixed those who believe the health pass scheme encroaches on basic freedoms, anti-vaxxers and conspiracy theorists.
The health pass, which is needed to enter a cafe or restaurant and also to travel on an inter-city train, is generated in a QR code either by a full course of vaccinations, a recent negative virus test or a recovery from COVID-19.
The government believes the plan will ramp up the demand for vaccinations.