The first time I saw a small group of protesters gathering downtown I dismissed them as crazy anti-vaxxers.
I get it, some people are scared of needles, some people think vaccines were developed so quickly they can’t be trusted, some people think have the strongest immune system ever, some people just delay getting vaccinated for a million of reasons. Fortunately, most of these vaccine-hesitant folks are smart enough to eventually roll up their sleeves.
But these protesters looked like the real crazy kind—you know who I’m talking about, people who claim vaccines are made in China with children tears and permanently alter your DNA. Recently, a perfect stranger explained to me that she wasn’t getting vaccinated because “it would make her magnetic.”
“This is an awesome side effect,” I replied. “I clean up my kid’s magnetic building sticks in no time at the end of the day.”
I mean, you can’t argue with crazy.
The second protest the following Saturday was bigger.
I grabbed my camera and followed the third one last Saturday—I didn’t join it, I just wanted to see who was protesting and why exactly.
It was one of these weird protests where you could spot both far-left anarchists and far-right zealots, “Paul Dupont” and “Marie Dupont”—i.e. your average French citizen—and their children, twentysomethings and seventysomethings, Black Blocks and firefighters.
Some were clearly crazy anti-vaxxers but many were protesting against the new “health pass.” Since August 9, the health pass (i.e. proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID test) is mandatory for access to all events or leisure and cultural venues (cinemas, museums, concert halls, festivals, stadiums, amusement parks), cafés, bars and restaurants, some shopping malls, airplanes, trains and long-distance buses.
Beyond minor practical issues, this is one of the COVID measures that actually makes sense to me. Vaccines are available in France and clearly COVID isn’t just going away. I’d rather show my proof of vaccination several times a day than go back to lockdowns, curfew, etc.
Yet, at the same time, I can’t help wondering how far we’re prepared to go (again) with COVID. I take the pandemic seriously, yet there are a number of restrictions I found questionable over the past few months. Several countries are pressing ahead with booster shots already—not for my age group, obviously, but if I’m told I need a fifth dose for the ninth wave at one point, I may be joining a protest as well.
Get vaccinated if you can, people. I really don’t want to find out what else we need to do to coexist with a potentially deadly virus.