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Europe’s vaccine passports reveal some pockets of resistance

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Shouts of “freedom!” echoed through the streets and squares of Italy and France as thousands show their opposition to plans to require vaccination cards for normal social activities such as dining in restaurants, visiting museums or cheering at sports stadiums.

The leaders of both countries see the cards, called the “Green Passport” in Italy and the “Health Passport” in France, as necessary to increase vaccination rates and convince the undecided.

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi compared the anti-vaccination message of some political leaders to a “call to die”. The impending need is working, and vaccination requests are booming in both countries.

Nevertheless, there are pockets of resistance among those who see this as a violation of civil liberties or have concerns about vaccine safety. About 80,000 people protested in cities across Italy last weekend, while thousands marched in Paris over the past three weekends and at times clashed with the police.

European nations have generally made strides in their vaccination rates in recent months, with or without incentives. No country has made the shots mandatory, and campaigns to convince the undecided are a patchwork quilt.

Denmark pioneered vaccination passports with little resistance. Belgium will require a certificate of vaccination for participation in outdoor events with more than 1,500 people by mid-August and indoor events by September. Germany and Great Britain have so far opposed a blanket approach, while vaccinations are so popular in Spain that incentives are not considered necessary.

In France and Italy, demonstrations against vaccination passports or virus restrictions generally bring together otherwise unlikely allies, often from the political extremes. These include far-right parties, fighters for economic justice, families with young children, opponents of vaccinations and those who fear them.

Many say vaccination record requirements are a source of inequality that will further divide society, and they draw uncomfortable historical parallels.

“We create great inequality between the citizens,” said a demonstrator in Verona who only identified himself as Simone because he said he was afraid for his livelihood. “We will have first-class citizens with access to public services, the theater.” , social life and second class citizens who cannot. This cause led to apartheid and the Holocaust. ”Some protesters in Italy and France wore yellow stars of David, as the Nazis asked Jews to do during World War II.

Holocaust survivors call the comparison a distortion of history.

“These are madness, tasteless gestures that intersect with ignorance,” said Liliana Segre, a 90-year-old Holocaust survivor and life sentence Italian senator. “It is a time of ignorance, of violence that is not even suppressed.” more, that’s ripe for those distortions. “Similar comparisons made during the protests in Britain have been widely condemned. One of the most prominent anti-lockdown activists, Piers Corbyn, brother of former Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn, was arrested earlier this year distributing a leaflet with the comparison that the Auschwitz concentration camp represents.

The French Health Passport is required in museums, cinemas and attractions and comes into effect on August 9 for restaurants and trains COVID-19.

Italy’s requirements are less strict. Only one vaccination dose is required, which will be in effect for outdoor restaurants, cinemas, stadiums, museums and other meeting places from August 6th. An extension of the requirement to long-distance transport is being considered.

A negative test within 48 hours or evidence of recovery from the virus in the past six months also grants access.

Demand for vaccines in Italy rose up to 200 percent in some regions after the government announced the Green Passport, the country’s special envoy on vaccinations said.

In France, nearly 5 million received the first dose and more than 6 million received the second dose in the two weeks after President Emmanuel Macron announced that virus passes would be extended to restaurants and many other public establishments. Before that, the demand for vaccinations had been falling for weeks.

A full 15 percent of Italians are still resistant to the vaccination message: 7 percent describe themselves as undecided and 8 percent as opposed to vaccination, according to a survey by the SWG. The survey of 800 adults carried out from July 21 to 23 shows an error rate of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

The top reasons given by more than half of respondents for hesitating or refusing to vaccinate are fears of serious side effects and concerns that the vaccines have not been adequately tested. Another 25 percent said they didn’t trust doctors, 12 percent said they weren’t afraid of the virus, and 8 percent denied it existed.

This leaves some difficult-to-penetrate sections of the population.

About 2 million Italians over 60 remain unvaccinated, despite being given preference in the spring. In Lombardy alone, the epicenter of the Italian outbreak, thousands remain unprotected.

The city of Milan sends mobile vans with vaccines and other relief supplies to another district every day. They reach out to the reluctant with flyers and social media posts, vaccinating 100-150 people daily with Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose vaccine.

Rosi De Filippis, 68, got the shot under pressure from a daughter.

“In any case, it somehow became mandatory,” said De Filippis. “At first we didn’t know everything we know today. So I decided to continue.” Companies in Italy and France are reluctant to accept the passports because they are concerned about how private companies can enforce public order. Denmark’s experience suggests that compliance will become easier over time – and vaccination rates will increase.

“The first few months were not good,” recalls Sune Helmgaard, whose restaurant in Copenhagen serves hearty, classic Danish cuisine. In the spring, vaccination rates were still low and customers could not always get tested in time.

But with more than 80 percent of eligible Danes having received at least one vaccination and more than 60 percent fully vaccinated, Helmgaard’s business is back to pre-pandemic levels.

“People feel more secure,” he said, “so the Danes like to show their passport.”

(This story was not edited by Devdiscourse staff and is automatically generated from a syndicated feed.)

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