French Police on Alert After Vaccine Site Vandalizations

French police have been urged to step up security around COVID-19 vaccination and testing centers after a string of vandalism in the last month.

Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin has written to police commanders urging them to be more vigilant as France prepares for the sixth weekend of anti-health-pass protests. 

Alarms were raised after the ministry revealed that 22 health institutions, including five test centers, 15 immunization centers, a medical laboratory, and a health center, had been vandalized since July 12.

The vandalism had mostly occurred during protests against the pass sanitaire, a document that people must present to prove they are fully vaccinated, have tested negative for COVID-19, or have recovered from the virus in order to access to a variety of public places, including hospitals (except for emergency treatment), gyms, sports facilities, cinemas, restaurants, bars, and hotels.

Protesters argue that the health bill jeopardizes personal and civic freedoms. More severe criticisms have compared the administration to Nazis from World War II and the pass to Nazi persecution of Jews.

According to official government statistics, around 237,000 people marched against the health pass across France on Saturday.

An estimated 9.3 million individuals have gotten at least one vaccine shot since the president introduced the health pass, and France is currently vaccinating just under 300,000 people every day.

Véran stated that 45 million French people, or 80% of the population over the age of 18, have received at least one dose of vaccination. Since May, France has also immunized children aged 12 to 17.

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