Mandatory vaccination for French health workers sparks falsehoods
First Draft uses cookies to distinguish you from other users of our website. They allow us to recognise users over multiple visits, and to collect basic data about your use of the website. Cookies help us provide you with a good experience when you browse our website and also allows us to improve our site. Check our cookie policy to read more. Cookie Policy.

As stated in a letter from Executive Director Claire Wardle on June 14, 2022, First Draft’s mission is moving to the Information Futures Lab at Brown University. The materials on this website will remain in the short term as we finalize plans for the resources collected here. Thanks, and please join us at IFL!

Mandatory vaccines for French healthcare workers spark inflammatory claims

French President Emmanuel Macron addressing the nation on July 12. (REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes)

Last night, French President Emmanuel Macron unveiled a number of measures aimed at curbing the rise in Covid-19 cases and the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant. Amid a slowdown in the number of new vaccinations, Macron announced that Covid-19 shots would be made mandatory for healthcare workers and use of the “sanitary pass” — proof of full vaccination or a recent negative Covid-19 test — would be extended beyond mass gatherings to cinemas, theaters, restaurants and bars.

The measures have already had an offline impact. Nearly 1 million people booked vaccine appointments following Macron’s announcement, the highest number since France began its vaccine rollout in December.

But the online reaction to Macron’s address was in stark contrast to offline developments. Many highly followed Instagram sources highlighted Macron’s U-turn on the issue, pointing to a tweet in December in which he reiterated that Covid-19 vaccines would not be made compulsory. Right-leaning Facebook communities used the reversal to push inflammatory claims likening Macron to a dictator, while a widely shared Instagram meme falsely suggested that unvaccinated people would be jailed.

A number of high-performing Twitter posts expanded on the false narrative that Covid-19 vaccines are experimental to claim that it is unethical to mandate vaccinations. And various online communities — particularly Yellow Vest ones — are calling for protests against mandatory vaccination for healthcare workers and the prospect of mandatory vaccination for all, a move Macron left open as a possibility. — Seb Cubbon

This article is from our daily briefing email newsletter. Subscribe for the key stories caught by our monitoring team each day, and be sure to check out our weekly briefing the best misinformation reads.

A roundup of the latest and most important misinformation narratives that you need to know about each day.

A weekly review of the best misinformation reads and talking points from around the world.

News from First Draft and invitations to all of our training and events.

Get briefings and updates delivered direct to your inbox.