A couple months ago, our French friends were protesting President Emmanuel Macron’s health pass—the pass sanitaire—requiring proof of coronavirus vaccination, recovery, or negative test to access all sorts of venues and transportation services. Those protests seem to have been exaggerated—the French government is extending the pass sanitaire through the end of July 2022, since it seems to be working pretty well:
…polls have repeatedly demonstrated that around two-thirds of French people support Macron’s health pass. Despite their visibility on the streets of major French cities over successive weekends in recent months, the measure’s opponents make up just 20 to 25 percent of the population, surveys show.
Most importantly, the Covid pass saw France’s vaccination rate surge. More than a million people made a vaccine appointment in the 24 hours after Macron’s July 12 announcement that a health pass would soon be required for public venues. Almost 10 million people got a first dose over the subsequent month.
When Macron first unveiled the health pass, only 54 percent of the French population had received one dose. That figure has since jumped to 75 percent, with France leapfrogging ahead of the UK, the US and Germany in the vaccination race.
The president introduced the measure amid an alarming new rise in Covid cases as the highly transmissible Delta variant took hold in France. That surge reached its zenith when the seven-day rolling average passed25,000 in August – but sank to less than 4,000 by October 13 after the upswing in vaccinations had taken effect.
“The health pass can certainly be seen as a success,” [University of Chichester professor Andrew] Smith said. “It allowed the Macron government to reverse a very bad wave of Covid that was hitting France severely.
“There’s definitely a connection between people learning to live with the pass – realising that it’s a minor inconvenience that has led to a big sense of security and freedom – and the uptake of vaccinations,” Smith continued. “Experience showed much of the scaremongering about vaccines and the pass to be ridiculous – and in this way, the health pass helped defeat a wider reluctance to get a jab, except among a core of people for whom any measure would be a step too far” [Tom Wheeldon, “Covid Health Pass Prevails over French Vaccine Scepticism in Boost for Macron,” France 24, 2021.10.14].
The French have put the lie to Rep. Jon Hansen’s ridiculous claim that vaccine mandates don’t promote civil liberties. France’s pass sanitaire proves that the road to real liberty lies in requiring people to get their shots so we can go out and enjoy our civil liberties with far less risk of making our friends and neighbors sick.