Inside France’s Vaccination Rollout Campaign: Part I

How France powered through its vaccine rollout at the very last minute.

France’s Vaccination Campaign has been a bit behind compared to other countries’, however, it has accelerated since February 2021. Recently, according to Our World in Data, 16.2% of France’s population is completely vaccinated and 37.3% have received their first dose. Here are a few key facts you should know about France’s vaccination campaign.

1. Initial goal.

By May 15th, 20 million people in France had received their first dosage of vaccine. France’s President Emmanuel Macron, had set this goal in 2020 intending to achieve it, which France did. The government is now hoping that by mid-June, 30 million people will be vaccinated, followed by the entire French population by the end of August. There are 4 vaccines permitted in France: Pfizer-BioNTech, AstraZeneca, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson.

france's vaccination
An awareness poster entitled “The Covid is not stopping, and neither are we.” FACEBOOK Gouvernement

2. Two-part strategy.

In the early stages of the vaccination strategy, the vaccine was only available for two types of people: the medical staff (ie: doctors, nurses, paramedics, social workers…etc.) as well as people with greater risk of contracting the virus. On January 14th– the Prime Minister of France, Jean Castex, stated that anybody “suffering from particularly serious illnesses” can be vaccinated.

3. 5-step program.

The vaccination campaign works in 5 steps: the first 3 steps were prioritizing the vaccine for the most vulnerable patients, while the 4th step mainly targeted adults who were already suffering from an illness. Finally, the last step is vaccinating every 18+ citizens. As of June 15th, 12 to 17-year-olds will be able to receive their first dosage (pending parental approval.)

4. A challenged waiting period.

The 18+ citizens only got the authorization to be vaccinated on May 31st. This waiting period was challenged and deemed useless by a majority of people. Although numerous vaccines were available, since the younger population couldn’t be vaccinated, numerous doses were wasted. A new hashtag was created “#LesJeunesVeulentLeVaccin”, or young people want the vaccine, to call upon the French government to allow young people to be vaccinated. For most students and young citizens, this waiting period discouraged many of them from vaccination.

5. Vaccine cynics.

France’s vaccination campaign still faces another problem: the anti-vax population. In France, an important percentage of the population is vaccine-sceptic. According to a review led by OpinionWay for BFMTV conducted at the start of May 2021, 20% of the 18+ population do not want to be vaccinated, and 13% are still on the fence about it. This anti-vax part of the population will stand in the way of France having total immunity (which occurs when approximately 70% of the public is fully vaccinated.)

6. The excluded population.

Besides the vaccine-sceptics, there is another threat to the government’s total immunity plan. There are a lot of people disconnected from the medical system as a third of the elderly have not yet received their vaccines. Why? This percentage of the population mainly represents: elderlies with no means of transportation, some living in poverty, and those who are not concerned about the virus. To help those people, a few departments have put some measures into place, such as: awareness campaigns, outgoing telephone campaigns…etc.

7. Sanitary Pass.

To “incite” French citizens regarding vaccination, the government has declared mandatory vaccines for all public, medical, and social workers, including: teachers, government officials, and nurses. Furthermore, after careful consideration, France will put into effect a “sanitary pass” on June 9th. For now, the sanitary pass is only useful if you wish to attend a concert, however, the pass will gradually be applied to every establishment. If you are fully vaccinated, then you will be able to live life normally (ie: going to restaurants, bars, cafes, museums…etc.) But if you are not, life will be similar to a lockdown without a sanitary pass.

8. Rewards for the vaccinated.

Following in the United States’ footsteps, France is leaning towards giving away gifts to the vaccinated part of the population, such as: organizing lotteries. Athletic clubs also promised stadium tickets to the vaccinated.

france's vaccination
A government poster displayed to incite people to get vaccinated. FACEBOOK Gouvernement

If you are thinking about traveling to France, here are a few useful tips regarding the sanitary situation:

  • Even if you are fully vaccinated, face mask is still mandatory in France for now, until the end of June.
  • Bars, restaurants, museums, and many other establishments have reopened their doors since May 17Th.
  • Until the end of June, a national curfew is still in place.
  • For American travelers, a negative test, or a proof of vaccination, will be sufficient to enter French territory. You will be given a “special pass” for the summer.
  • Closed since March 2020, nightclubs are still in the since the government has yet to announced a reopening date. But, they should reopen during the summer.
  • For Europeans, if you are vaccinated then you will be able to travel to France as of June 9th.
  • If you wish to have more information, we suggest clicking on the French Government website.

Eve McGuardian


Eve was born and raised in NYC and later on, moved to Paris. She grew up in an international home and is fluent in both French and English. Every chance she gets, she travels; either to discover a new culture or as a volunteer in an organization. The most memorable cities she has been to are: Ischia, a little island off the coast of Naples for the people, Istanbul for the culture, and Paris for the architecture.

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