PARIS – Thousands of people protested France's special virus pass by marching through Paris and other French cities on Saturday. Most demonstrations were peaceful but some in Paris clashed with riot police, who fired tear gas.
Some 3,000 security forces deployed around the French capital for a third weekend of protests against the pass that will be needed soon to enter restaurants and other places. Police took up posts along Paris' Champs-Elysees to guard against an invasion of the famed avenue.
With virus infections spiking and hospitalizations rising, French lawmakers have passed a bill requiring the pass in most places as of Aug. 9. Polls show a majority of French support the pass, but some are adamantly opposed. The pass requires a vaccination or a quick negative test or proof of a recent recovery from COVID-19 and mandates vaccine shots for all health care workers by mid-September.
Estonia ramps up shots for teens
With her father in tow, Gloria Raudjarv, 13, marched through a vaccination center inside a sports hall in Estonia's second-largest city and up to a nurse for her first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
So far, around half of Tartu's teenagers from 12 to 17 have already received their first vaccine shot, and local health officials are working to reach 70% by the time school resumes Sept. 1. “I really want to go to school already, we have been distance learning for so long,” she said, gripping her vaccination certificate.
Two months after the European Medicines Agency recommended that the coronavirus vaccine made by Pfizer-BioNTech be expanded to children 12 to 15, large disparities in the access to vaccination are being seen for youths across Europe.
While countries like Estonia, Denmark and France are actively encouraging families to vaccinate their children before the new school year begins, others such as Sweden and the United Kingdom have yet to begin mass vaccinations for those younger than 18.
Alternate sites cost California
California spent nearly $200 million to set up, operate and staff alternate care sites that ultimately provided little help when the state's worst coronavirus surge spiraled out of control last winter, forcing exhausted hospital workers to treat patients in tents and cafeterias.
Through desperation and innovation, the system was able to expand enough to accommodate patients even during the surge that saw hospitalizations top 20,000 and nearly 700 people die weekly.
“Definitely some hospitals, particularly in the Los Angeles area, were at the breaking point, but we did not see that much use of the alternate care sites relative to what was contemplated,” said Janet Coffman, a health policy professor at University of California, San Francisco.