“I don’t want to spread my life”: report from a Parisian smallpox vaccination center

He didn’t want to wait. The memory of the endless lines to get vaccinated against Covid has gone through this. “We were very scalded with the confinements, the restrictions of freedom” , explains Roman. So, as soon as he learned that the city of Paris was opening, on July 26, a municipal center dedicated to vaccination against smallpox, this 31-year-old Parisian jumped at the chance.

in 13and district, in Edison’s health center, there are many, like him, waiting for their first dose. “I have a friend who contracted the disease, trust Romain while filling out your information sheet. He was lucky: a big sore throat and a few pimples. But some don’t come out so easily. »

The lack of response from the government

The vaccine? Like everyone here, he’s not afraid. “This has been around for a long time and has proven itself. » Vincent, 43, leaves the health center all smiles. “I had a stroke of luck because there aren’t many seats available. »

He knows that the disease is not fatal. But he fears three weeks of sick leave and isolation. “We will quickly make the smallpox connection at work and I don’t want to spread my life out” , explains the owner of the restaurant. Because today the epidemic mainly affects (more than 9 cases in 10) men who have sex with men.

Sylvain, 51, has no such fear. Travel agent, he says he navigates a non-homophobic universe. He was young when AIDS first appeared. But old enough to remember what was then called “gay cancer”. “Thank God we are not there anymore today”, he breathes. The HIV experience, however, makes him think that if homosexuals represent a multiplier coefficient through their sexual practices, heterosexuals run the risk of not being spared.

“As with AIDS, the virus may very well reach everyone”he said, lamenting the lack of response capacity of the public authorities. “As long as we are not affected by the problem, we are not worried. We saw this with Ebola or with Mrs. But today, we deforest with all our strength. We’re getting too close to the wild. So there will be more and more zoonoses, here or there…” Meanwhile, Sylvain leaves quietly. In August, he will be able to enjoy his Mediterranean cruise without fear. “An exclusively gay cruise. We will be 3,000 on the boat. »

“Awareness of so-called populations at risk”

This infectious and contagious disease caused by a virus has been considered since July 23 as a public health emergency of international concern. The World Health Organization (WHO), very concerned, has just resorted to this type of alert – the loudest – for the seventh time in its history.

And the risk is particularly high in Europe. In France, Île-de-France is the most affected region, with 781 cases reported as of July 26 by the French Public Health out of 1,837 nationwide. Hence the choice of the city of Paris to open a dedicated vaccination center. To welcome the candidates for vaccination, about fifteen health professionals and five administrative agents were mobilized, only employees of the city of Paris.

“It’s incredibly unfortunate that I didn’t react more quickly”, laments Emmanuel Grégoire. Paris’ first deputy mayor criticizes the government for its lack of response to the virus outbreak.

In the capital, it is promised to extend the hours of the vaccination post (from 9 am to 9 pm non-stop and six days a week) from next week and increase to 2,000 vaccinations per week.

“Today, there is a very strong awareness of so-called populations at risk”continues the elected, who nevertheless admits his concern regarding the health personnel already in great demand during Covid. “We are awaiting the publication of the decree authorizing medical students to vaccinate, announced by the Minister of Health. »

Smallpox recognized as a biological weapon

Likewise, the issue of dose availability – classified as a defense secret, smallpox is recognized as a biological weapon – remains unresolved. “We don’t know the number of doses in stock and we don’t have visibility on the subject”continues Emmanuel Grégoire.

The government wants to be reassuring. More than 42,000 doses have been out of stock, according to François Braun, Minister of Health. The rest will tell us whether the efforts were up to the challenge. Inter-LGBT did not wait to rise up against the “Lack of preparedness and government transparency”.

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