France urges better protection for vaccine centres after vandalism

Two dozen centres have been hit by attacks this month

The French government on Wednesday urged better protection for vaccine centres after about two dozen acts of vandalism recorded over the past month.

Tension has been high in recent weeks as tens of thousands of protesters rallied against President Emmanuel Macron's health pass policy, which aims to encourage vaccination.

Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin sent a letter to senior local authority officials at Mr Macron's request, in which he urged French police to ensure better protection for vaccine centres across the country, AFP reported.

The Interior Ministry said 22 acts of vandalism against testing and vaccination centres and pharmacies have been recorded since July 12. Almost 60 threats have also been reported.

In mid-July, a vaccination centre in Lans-en-Vercors in south-east France was flooded with a hose, causing damage to equipment.

Slogans such as "vaccinations are the new genocide" were daubed on the walls.

Last weekend in the city of Toulouse a piece of paper was found at a vaccination centre warning that "one day this will all be blown up".

In a letter to health workers, Health Minister Olivier Veran said: "I will not accept any violence, any intimidation, any attack on your physical integrity or professional equipment."

The protests over the past four weekends have been attended by those who believe the health pass scheme encroaches on basic freedoms, anti-vaccine campaigners and conspiracy theorists.

The health pass, which is needed to enter a cafe or restaurant and to travel on an inter-city train, is generated in a QR code by a full course of vaccinations, a recent negative virus test or a recovery from Covid-19.

The government believes the plan will increase the demand for vaccinations.

Updated: August 11th 2021, 8:42 PM