French kids line up to get vaccine shots as omicron spreads

Dec 22, 2021, 9:27 AM | Updated: Dec 23, 2021, 4:23 am

SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France (AP) — French schoolchildren clung nervously to their parents as they entered a vast vaccine center west of Paris on Wednesday — then walked excitedly away with a decorated “vaccination diploma,” as France kicked off mass COVID-19 inoculations for children age 5 to 11.

It’s not a moment too soon for the French government, which is facing the highest recorded infection rates since the pandemic began but trying to avoid a new lockdown.

The health minister said Wednesday that the swiftly-spreading omicron variant is expected to be dominant in France by next week, but ruled out additional restrictions on public life for now. Officials are hoping that a surge in vaccinations will be enough to limit the mounting pressure on hospitals, where COVID-19 patients occupy more than 60% of beds.

At a “vaccinodrome” in the Paris suburb of Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, children lined up for first-day jabs Wednesday wearing masks adorned with puppies, flowers or Marvel superheros.

One worked out his nerves by rolling his toy car on any surface he could find. Another played games on his mom’s phone. Eight-year-old Alvin Yin cried, while his 9-year-old sister Noemie tried to comfort him.

Dimitri Marck, 8, admitted, “It’s a little weird. I heard about this on TV, and now I’m here.” But he said he’s glad to get vaccinated so he can see grandparents for the holidays.

France started vaccinating 5- to 11-year-olds with health risks earlier this month and expanded it to all children in that age group Wednesday as part of accelerated vaccination efforts. Children need the consent of at least one parent, and one parent has to be present when they get a shot.

As of early December, more than 1,000 in every 100,000 children in France aged 6-10 were infected with coronavirus, according to government figures. Currently, 145 children are hospitalized for severe illness due to COVID-19 and 27 children are receiving medical treatment in intensive care units, Health Minister Olivier Veran said Wednesday on BFM television.

France registered 72,832 new cases Tuesday and has 16,000 people hospitalized with COVID-19, among the highest numbers in Europe.

In a radio interview Wednesday, Labor Minister Elisabeth Borne asked companies to let employees work remotely wherever possible for at least three if not four days a week. French businesses largely returned to in-person work in 2020.

France has shut down nightclubs and banned New Year’s Eve fireworks and other mass end-of-year celebrations, including concerts.

“It’s an evening sacrificed for a good cause,” Veran said.

But his main message was to urge more vaccination. More than 89% of people 12 and over in France have had two doses, and about a third have had a booster shot.

Hugo, 8, was the last member of his family to get the shot and felt left out. His father, Benoit Chappaz, said they got him vaccinated “not because the government wants us to,” but for their family’s peace of mind and for general public health.

Nearby, American-born Evan, 7, squirmed in his chair. His great-uncle died with COVID-19, and his family knows several people who have been hospitalized with the virus.

Asked how he would face the injection, he said, “I’m going to scream. And then maybe if Mommy agrees, I can get an ice cream or something sweet, because I got a vaccine.”

As the doctor glided the needle into his arm, Evan didn’t scream. Instead, he wrapped himself around his mother and buried his head in her jacket.

Then as he left, he proudly held up his “diplome de vaccination.”

___

Surk contributed from Nice, France.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Soldiers wrap bodies of victims of a mudslide in Noney, northeastern Manipur state, India, Friday, ...
Associated Press

Rescuers recover 26 dead from mudslide in India’s northeast

GAUHATI, India (AP) — Fresh rain and falling boulders on Saturday hampered rescuers who have so far pulled out 26 bodies from the debris of a mudslide that wiped out a railroad construction site in India’s northeast, officials said. Rescue work is expected to continue for a couple of days in rugged hilly terrain with […]
4 hours ago
FILE -  A coal-fired power station in Witbank, South Africa , Monday, Oct. 11, 2021. South Africans...
Associated Press

South Africans struggle in the dark to cope with power cuts

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — South Africans are struggling in the dark to cope with increased power cuts that have hit households and businesses across the country. The rolling power cuts have been experienced for years but this week the country’s state-owned power utility Eskom extended them so that some residents and businesses have gone without power […]
4 hours ago
Associated Press

Virgin Orbit rocket launches 7 US defense satellites

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A Virgin Orbit rocket carrying seven U.S. Defense Department satellites was launched from a special Boeing 747 flying off the Southern California coast and streaked toward space Friday night. The modified jumbo jet took off from Mojave Air and Space Port in the Mojave Desert and released the rocket over the […]
4 hours ago
Casper Byrd, right, of Bowling Green, sits with friends as they listen to various speakers share th...
Associated Press

Texas Supreme Court blocks order that resumed abortions

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — The Texas Supreme Court blocked a lower court order late Friday night that said clinics could continue performing abortions, just days after some doctors had resumed seeing patients after the fall of Roe v. Wade. It was not immediately clear whether Texas clinics that had resumed seeing patients this week would […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Today in History: July 2, Amelia Earhart disappears

Today in History Today is Saturday, July 2, the 183rd day of 2022. There are 182 days left in the year. Today’s Highlight in History: On July 2, 1937, aviator Amelia Earhart and navigator Fred Noonan disappeared over the Pacific Ocean while attempting to make the first round-the-world flight along the equator. On this date: […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Baby’s father charged in slaying of stroller-pushing NYC mom

NEW YORK (AP) — The ex-boyfriend of a New York City woman shot dead Wednesday as she pushed their infant daughter in a stroller has been arrested and charged with killing her, police said Friday. Slain mother Azsia Johnson’s family identified suspect Isaac Argro as the baby’s father and said he routinely abused Johnson, beating […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

(Courtesy Condor)...
Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines shows passion for destinations from Sky Harbor with new-look aircraft

Condor Airlines brings passion to each flight and connects people to their dream destinations throughout the world.
...
Carla Berg, MHS, Deputy Director, Public Health Services, Arizona Department of Health Services

Update your child’s vaccines before kindergarten

So, your little one starts kindergarten soon. How exciting! You still have a few months before the school year starts, so now’s the time to make sure students-to-be have the vaccines needed to stay safe as they head into a new chapter of life.
...
Christina O’Haver

BE FAST to spot a stroke

Every 40 seconds—that’s how often someone has a stroke in the United States. It’s the fifth leading cause of death among Americans, with someone dying of a stroke every 3.5 minutes.
French kids line up to get vaccine shots as omicron spreads