Have we reached the glass ceiling?

After France rushed to Doctolib and vaccination centers following Emmanuel Macron’s speech on July 12, presenting the health pass, Prime Minister Jean Castex had revised upward the vaccine objectives for the end of August: the country was targeting 50 million French people on September 1, instead of 40 million.

But tirelessly, the vaccination rate ended up falling, far from the euphoria of July. No worries, first relativized the executive. The goal of 50 million first injected doses will be reached with just a few short days of delay, on September 3 or 4. But the vaccination slowed down even more than expected, so much so that on this Wednesday, September 15, France still does not count these famous 50 million first-time injections against the coronavirus. Worse, at the rate it is turning now – between 50,000 and 60,000 first doses per day, constantly falling – the goal could not be achieved until next week, that is to say a month late.

What’s going on ?

The glass ceiling is a classic phenomenon of all vaccination campaigns: once all proactive people have been vaccinated, vaccination slows down due to lack of candidates. France had even already experienced this phenomenon in June, with a clear slowdown in the number of first-time injections and appointments on Doctolib. Emmanuel Macron’s speech on July 12 had totally broken this first ceiling, but the country seems to have reached a second. From more than 330,000 first-time injections per day on average at the end of July, France has dropped to 60,000 this week.

There is nevertheless a clear difference: in June, France had only 50% of its adults vaccinated, against 87.1% on Wednesday. Now, quite logically, it is certain that the more people we vaccinate, the less there are left to be vaccinated, the fewer new doses injected. Between the end of July – the peak of vaccination – and this week, the number of eligible people remaining to be vaccinated has been halved.

“In all the centers that I know, there is a drop in activity, some centers are closing or drastically reducing the wing due to the lack of people to be vaccinated. There is a form of disappointment, disillusionment, incomprehension of the staff, ”depicts the doctor and vaccinator Christian Lehmann.

Are there other factors to consider?

For several weeks, all the indicators of Covid-19 have been in free fall, the epidemic has been decreasing sharply in France, to the point that the country has returned to an incidence of 100 on Tuesday. However, a good epidemic situation harms the feeling of emergency and therefore vaccination. In July, even before Emmanuel Macron’s allocation, vaccination was slightly on the rise following the outbreak of the Delta variant.

A rebound was expected in September, with the start of the school year, the extension of the health pass to over 12s at the end of the month and the comfort tests becoming payable from October. But it is not. “Vaccination cannot work with the stick alone. Once the sanitary pass has been established, there are not many options left to shake up, ”notes Christian Lehmann.

And indeed arrive the limits of such a system. Concretely, vaccination slips on three types of population: skeptics in the adult population, any age group over 18 years already having at least 80% of first-time vaccines, people for whom the vaccine is difficult to access, and 12-18 year olds. The first two categories were predictable, and more and more mobile means are being put in place to bring the vaccine to these populations. There remains the case of adolescents.

Towards an adolescent problem?

Admittedly, two-thirds of adolescents have already received at least one dose, admittedly they were the last to have the open vaccination (June 15), but it is clear that this is done at a less frantic pace than other age groups. On the ground, Christian Lehmann feels it well: “There is a real hesitation on the part of adolescents but also of their parents for the vaccination of minors, even when adults are themselves vaccinated. And given the lack of information, this is hardly surprising. “

Communication on the risk-benefits in minors, on the risks of myocarditis, but also on the drop in post-vaccination transmission and therefore of the collective benefit of vaccination of populations not at risk, was not met. -you according to the doctor: “Instead of just shaking up the health pass, it would have been necessary to inform adolescents and their parents, to make educational interventions in middle and high schools, to answer questions, often relevant moreover. This is science: we win the support of the population through information. “However, in the context of minors, questions and fears multiply, notes the doctor.

Life under a health pass and the end of free tests could still convince a few small percentages, but probably not enough to break this new glass ceiling. Still, for the doctor, it shouldn’t be broken anyway anyhow: “If, as they say, we are at war, the important thing is to hold out over the long term. Stretching the stick endlessly can save percentages, but what are the consequences for science afterwards? “

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