PARIS (AP) — French President Emmanuel Macron has taken to popular social media apps in a new push to encourage vaccinations against COVID-19, combat “false information” and reach out to younger people.
Filming himself from his summer residency at Fort de Bregancon on the French Riviera wearing a casual T-shirt, Macron, 43, offered to answer people’s questions in a video posted on Instagram and Tiktok.
As France faces a new surge in confirmed daily COVID-19 cases, Macron said the vaccine is “the only weapon we have to face it.”
“I know that many of you are still wondering, are afraid. Many are hearing false information, false rumors, sometimes complete rubbish … Go ahead, ask me and I will try to be as direct and clear as possible,” he said.
Since then, Macron has posted a string of short videos addressing issues including : “I’m young and healthy, I have no reason to get the vaccine,” “the vaccine is not safe and not 100% efficient” and “it’s too soon, the vaccine has been developed too quickly.”
Macron’s move comes after three successive weekends of protests against France’s special virus pass drew thousands of people in Paris and other French cities.
Macron intends to continue answering people’s questions all week on the social media, his office said.
This is not the first time that Macron, who is widely expected to seek a second presidential term next year, has used social media in a bid to speak to younger people.
In May, he filmed a video in the French presidential palace with two of France’s most popular YouTube stars, Mcfly and Carlito, after they met a challenge to reach more than 10 million views with a song about social distancing.
Over 35 million people in France — about 53% of the population — are fully vaccinated.
At least 6 million of them have gotten their first vaccine shot since Macron announced on July 12 that a COVID-19 health pass will be required to enter all restaurants and to travel domestically. The measure, if approved by the Constitutional Council, is expected to begin Aug. 9.
To get the pass, people must have proof they are fully vaccinated, recently tested negative or recently recovered from the virus.
France also requires all health care workers to start getting vaccinated by Sept. 15 or risk suspension.
Almost 112,000 people with the virus have died in France, which is now registering over 20,000 new infections a day, up from less than 2,000 new cases a day on July 1.
Follow all AP stories on the global pandemic at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic.