SARTROUVILLE: The head of the French nursing home, Yann Reboulleau, was trying to convince Madeleine Bonnet, a 92-year-old resident, of the merits of getting the COVID-19 vaccine and was facing a difficult period. – Are we guinea pigs? he asked Bonnet, who used to work as a pharmacist, as he sat across from Reboulleau in the TV room of the Mon Repos house, while the cooks prepared a lunch of Bulgarian wheat and chicken.
Reboulleau stressed that vaccines are undergoing extensive testing to ensure they are safe. Bonnet pulled back, “But with what certainty?” Scientists say the launch of COVID-19 vaccines – once the first of them will receive regulatory approval for Europe in the coming weeks – will play a huge role in rejecting a virus that in France alone has contributed to more than 58,000 deaths.
But the vaccine’s effectiveness could be compromised, scientists say, by widespread reluctance on the part of French people to have it. More than half of the population says it will not, or probably will not, be inoculated, polls show. This reluctance is shared at the “Mon Repos” house near Paris, even though residents, aged between 87 and 100, are among the most vulnerable groups to become seriously ill or die from COVID-19.
In the first wave of the virus earlier this year, the house had a group of infections during which four residents died. Nationally, more than 17,000 COVID-related deaths were in nursing homes, and 93% of all those who died of COVID-19 were age 65 or older, according to public health figures.
Laurent Levasseur, president of Bluelinea, a company that helps nursing homes treat the virus, including “Mon Repos,” said his company questioned residents over the phone and those who were undecided or against the vaccine that outperformed those in favor. . Sitting next to a Christmas tree, Bonnet said she is suspicious of the reasons pharmaceutical companies are rushing to get the vaccines approved and released in record time.
If their actions were profit-driven, that made her uncomfortable, she said. If the plan was to promote medical science, she was in favor and willing to be a part of it. For now, though, she wasn’t sure if she would have the jab when she was offered it. “We’ll see,” she said.