Europe's vaccine passes reveal some pockets of resistance

  • FILE - In this  Wednesday, July 28, 2021 file photo, people stage a protest against the COVID-19 vaccination pass in Rome. Shouts of 'úliberty'Ě have echoed through Italian and French streets and squares as thousands show their opposition to plans to require vaccination cards to continue normal social activities, like dining indoors at restaurants, visiting museums or cheering home teams in stadiums. (Cecilia Fabiano/LaPresse via AP)

    FILE - In this Wednesday, July 28, 2021 file photo, people stage a protest against the COVID-19 vaccination pass in Rome. Shouts of 'úliberty'Ě have echoed through Italian and French streets and squares as thousands show their opposition to plans to require vaccination cards to continue normal social activities, like dining indoors at restaurants, visiting museums or cheering home teams in stadiums. (Cecilia Fabiano/LaPresse via AP) Associated Press

  • FILE - In this Wednesday, July 28, 2021 file photo, medical workers administer a shot of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for COVID-19 to Rosi De Filippis at a cultural center on the outskirts of Milan, Italy, Wednesday, July 28, 2021. A camper van will tour Milan and the Lombardy region to provide J&J easy vaccination without bookings thanks to an initiative or regional health authorities to reach hesitant or skeptical/undecided Italians in an attempt to boost the vaccination campaign.

    FILE - In this Wednesday, July 28, 2021 file photo, medical workers administer a shot of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for COVID-19 to Rosi De Filippis at a cultural center on the outskirts of Milan, Italy, Wednesday, July 28, 2021. A camper van will tour Milan and the Lombardy region to provide J&J easy vaccination without bookings thanks to an initiative or regional health authorities to reach hesitant or skeptical/undecided Italians in an attempt to boost the vaccination campaign. Associated Press

  • FILE - In this Saturday, July 24, 2021 file photo, people stage a protest against the "green pass" in Milan, Italy. Protesters in Italy and in France have been wearing yellow Stars of David, like the ones Nazis required Jews to wear to identify themselves during the Holocaust. Some carry signs likening vaccine passes to  dictatorships.

    FILE - In this Saturday, July 24, 2021 file photo, people stage a protest against the "green pass" in Milan, Italy. Protesters in Italy and in France have been wearing yellow Stars of David, like the ones Nazis required Jews to wear to identify themselves during the Holocaust. Some carry signs likening vaccine passes to dictatorships. Associated Press

  • FILE - In this Saturday, July 24, 2021 file photo, people stage a protest against the "green pass" in Milan, Italy. Protesters in Italy and in France have been wearing yellow Stars of David, like the ones Nazis required Jews to wear to identify themselves during the Holocaust. Some carry signs likening vaccine passes to  dictatorships.

    FILE - In this Saturday, July 24, 2021 file photo, people stage a protest against the "green pass" in Milan, Italy. Protesters in Italy and in France have been wearing yellow Stars of David, like the ones Nazis required Jews to wear to identify themselves during the Holocaust. Some carry signs likening vaccine passes to dictatorships. Associated Press

  • FILE - In this Tuesday, July 27, 2021 filer, people take part in a protest against the COVID-19 vaccination pass in Rome. Protesters in Italy and in France have been wearing yellow Stars of David, like the ones Nazis required Jews to wear to identify themselves during the Holocaust. Some carry signs likening vaccine passes to  dictatorships. (Mauro Scrobogna/LaPresse via AP, File)

    FILE - In this Tuesday, July 27, 2021 filer, people take part in a protest against the COVID-19 vaccination pass in Rome. Protesters in Italy and in France have been wearing yellow Stars of David, like the ones Nazis required Jews to wear to identify themselves during the Holocaust. Some carry signs likening vaccine passes to dictatorships. (Mauro Scrobogna/LaPresse via AP, File) Associated Press

  • FILE  In this , Tuesday, July 27, 2021 file photo, people gather to protest against the COVID-19 vaccination pass in Rome. Protesters in Italy and in France have been wearing yellow Stars of David, like the ones Nazis required Jews to wear to identify themselves during the Holocaust. Some carry signs likening vaccine passes to  dictatorships.

    FILE In this , Tuesday, July 27, 2021 file photo, people gather to protest against the COVID-19 vaccination pass in Rome. Protesters in Italy and in France have been wearing yellow Stars of David, like the ones Nazis required Jews to wear to identify themselves during the Holocaust. Some carry signs likening vaccine passes to dictatorships. Associated Press

  • FILE - In this Wednesday, July 28, 2021 file photo, a man shows a sign shaped like a Star of David reading in Italian "They want us like this" during a protest against the COVID-19 vaccination pass in Turin, Italy. Shouts of 'úliberty'Ě have echoed through Italian and French streets and squares as thousands show their opposition to plans to require vaccination cards to continue normal social activities, like dining indoors at restaurants, visiting museums or cheering home teams in stadiums. (Marco Alpozzi/LaPresse via AP, File)

    FILE - In this Wednesday, July 28, 2021 file photo, a man shows a sign shaped like a Star of David reading in Italian "They want us like this" during a protest against the COVID-19 vaccination pass in Turin, Italy. Shouts of 'úliberty'Ě have echoed through Italian and French streets and squares as thousands show their opposition to plans to require vaccination cards to continue normal social activities, like dining indoors at restaurants, visiting museums or cheering home teams in stadiums. (Marco Alpozzi/LaPresse via AP, File) Associated Press

  • FILE - In this Monday, July 26, 2021 filer, people stroll at Trocadero plaza near9the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Monday, July 26, 2021. European nations, across the board, have made strides in their vaccination rates in recent months, with or without incentives. No country has made them mandatory, and campaigns to persuade the undecided are a patchwork.

    FILE - In this Monday, July 26, 2021 filer, people stroll at Trocadero plaza near9the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Monday, July 26, 2021. European nations, across the board, have made strides in their vaccination rates in recent months, with or without incentives. No country has made them mandatory, and campaigns to persuade the undecided are a patchwork. Associated Press

  • FILE - In this Monday, July 26, 2021 filer, a waiter wearing a face mask to protect against coronavirus serves at a restaurant terrace in Paris. European nations, across the board, have made strides in their vaccination rates in recent months, with or without incentives. No country has made them mandatory, and campaigns to persuade the undecided are a patchwork.

    FILE - In this Monday, July 26, 2021 filer, a waiter wearing a face mask to protect against coronavirus serves at a restaurant terrace in Paris. European nations, across the board, have made strides in their vaccination rates in recent months, with or without incentives. No country has made them mandatory, and campaigns to persuade the undecided are a patchwork. Associated Press

  • FILE - In this Saturday, July 17, 2021 file photo, a Star of David reading in French "without vaccine" is attached on a T-shirt of an Anti-vaccine protesters during a rally in Paris. Shouts of 'úliberty'Ě have echoed through Italian and French streets and squares as thousands show their opposition to plans to require vaccination cards to continue normal social activities, like dining indoors at restaurants, visiting museums or cheering home teams in stadiums.

    FILE - In this Saturday, July 17, 2021 file photo, a Star of David reading in French "without vaccine" is attached on a T-shirt of an Anti-vaccine protesters during a rally in Paris. Shouts of 'úliberty'Ě have echoed through Italian and French streets and squares as thousands show their opposition to plans to require vaccination cards to continue normal social activities, like dining indoors at restaurants, visiting museums or cheering home teams in stadiums. Associated Press

  • FILE - In this Tuesday, July 7, 2021 filer, hundreds of people queue to be vaccinated against COVID-19 at the Enfermera Isabel Zendal Hospital in Madrid, Spain. European nations, across the board, have made strides in their vaccination rates in recent months, with or without incentives. No country has made them mandatory, and campaigns to persuade the undecided are a patchwork.

    FILE - In this Tuesday, July 7, 2021 filer, hundreds of people queue to be vaccinated against COVID-19 at the Enfermera Isabel Zendal Hospital in Madrid, Spain. European nations, across the board, have made strides in their vaccination rates in recent months, with or without incentives. No country has made them mandatory, and campaigns to persuade the undecided are a patchwork. Associated Press

  • FILE - In this Friday, July 9, 2021 file photo, a health worker checks the x-ray of a 34-year-old COVID-19 patient in the Hospital del Mar in Barcelona, Spain. European nations, across the board, have made strides in their vaccination rates in recent months, with or without incentives. No country has made them mandatory, and campaigns to persuade the undecided are a patchwork.

    FILE - In this Friday, July 9, 2021 file photo, a health worker checks the x-ray of a 34-year-old COVID-19 patient in the Hospital del Mar in Barcelona, Spain. European nations, across the board, have made strides in their vaccination rates in recent months, with or without incentives. No country has made them mandatory, and campaigns to persuade the undecided are a patchwork. Associated Press

  • FILE - In this Monday, July 19, 2021 file photo, people drink on the dance floor shortly after the reopening, at The Piano Works in Farringdon, in London. European nations, across the board, have made strides in their vaccination rates in recent months, with or without incentives. No country has made them mandatory, and campaigns to persuade the undecided are a patchwork.

    FILE - In this Monday, July 19, 2021 file photo, people drink on the dance floor shortly after the reopening, at The Piano Works in Farringdon, in London. European nations, across the board, have made strides in their vaccination rates in recent months, with or without incentives. No country has made them mandatory, and campaigns to persuade the undecided are a patchwork. Associated Press

  • FILE - In this Tuesday, July 13, 2021 filer, a face mask sits discarded in front of the Old Opera in Frankfurt, Germany. European nations, across the board, have made strides in their vaccination rates in recent months, with or without incentives. No country has made them mandatory, and campaigns to persuade the undecided are a patchwork.

    FILE - In this Tuesday, July 13, 2021 filer, a face mask sits discarded in front of the Old Opera in Frankfurt, Germany. European nations, across the board, have made strides in their vaccination rates in recent months, with or without incentives. No country has made them mandatory, and campaigns to persuade the undecided are a patchwork. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 8/1/2021 7:54 AM

VERONA, Italy -- Shouts of 'úLiberty!'Ě have echoed through the streets and squares of Italy and France as thousands show their opposition to plans to require vaccination cards for normal social activities, such as dining indoors at restaurants, visiting museums or cheering in sports stadiums.

Leaders in both countries see the cards, dubbed the 'úGreen Pass'Ě in Italy and the 'úhealth pass'Ě in France, as necessary to boost vaccination rates and persuade the undecided.

 

Italian Premier Mario Draghi likened the anti-vaccination message from some political leaders to 'úan appeal to die.'Ě

The looming requirement is working, with vaccination requests booming in both countries.

Still, there are pockets of resistance by those who see it as a violation of civil liberties or have concerns about vaccine safety. About 80,000 people protested in cities across Italy last weekend, while thousands have marched in Paris for the past three weekends, at times clashing with police. More than 200,000 marched across France on Saturday, 14,000 of them in Paris, in the biggest show yet.


European nations in general have made strides in their vaccination rates in recent months, with or without incentives. No country has made the shots mandatory, and campaigns to persuade the undecided are a patchwork.

Denmark pioneered vaccine passes with little resistance. Belgium will require a vaccine certificate to attend outdoor events with more than 1,500 people by mid-August and indoor events by September. Germany and Britain have so far resisted a blanket approach, while vaccinations are so popular in Spain that incentives are not deemed necessary.

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In France and Italy, demonstrations against vaccine passes or virus restrictions in general are bringing together otherwise unlikely allies, often from the political extremes. They include far-right parties, campaigners for economic justice, families with small children, those against vaccines and those who fear them.

Many say vaccine pass requirements are a source of inequality that will further divide society, and they draw uneasy historic parallels.

'úWe are creating a great inequality between citizens,'' said one protester in Verona, who identified himself only as Simone because he said he feared for his livelihood. 'úWe will have first-class citizens, who can access public services, the theater, social life, and second-class citizens, who cannot. This thing has led to apartheid and the Holocaust."

Some protesters in Italy and France have worn yellow Stars of David, like those the Nazis required Jews to wear during World War II.

Holocaust survivors call the comparison a distortion of history.

'úThey are madness, gestures in poor taste that intersect with ignorance,'' said Liliana Segre, a 90-year-old Holocaust survivor and Italian senator for life. 'úIt is such a time of ignorance, of violence that is not even repressed any more, that has become ripe for these distortions.'Ě

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Similar comparisons during protests in Britain have been widely condemned. One of the most prominent anti-lockdown activists, Piers Corbyn, brother of former Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, was arrested earlier this year after distributing a leaflet making the comparison, depicting the Auschwitz concentration camp.

The French health pass is required at museums, movie theaters and tourist sites, and comes into effect for restaurants and trains on Aug. 9. To get it, people must be fully vaccinated, have a recent negative test, or proof they recently recovered from COVID-19.

Italy's requirements are less stringent. Just one vaccine dose is required, and it applies to outdoor dining, cinemas, stadiums, museums and other gathering places from Aug. 6. Expanding the requirement to long-distance transport is being considered. A negative test within 48 hours or proof of having recovered from the virus in the last six months also provide access.

Vaccine demand in Italy increased by as much as 200% in some regions after the government announced the Green Pass, according to the country's special commissioner for vaccinations.

In France, nearly 5 million got a first dose and more than 6 million got a second dose in the two weeks after President Emmanuel Macron announced that the virus passes would be expanded to restaurants and many other public venues. Before that, vaccination demand had been waning for weeks.

A full 15% of Italians remain resistant to the vaccine message: 7% identifying themselves as undecided, and 8% as anti-vaccine, according to a survey by SWG. The survey of 800 adults, conducted July 21-23, has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

The biggest reasons for hesitating or refusing to get vaccinated, cited by more than half of respondents, are fears of serious side effects and concerns that the vaccines have not been adequately tested. Another 25% said they don't trust doctors, 12% said they don't fear the virus, and 8% deny it exists.

This leaves some hard-to-penetrate segments of the population.

About 2 million Italians over 60 remain unvaccinated, despite being given precedence in the spring. Thousands remain unprotected in Lombardy alone, the epicenter of Italy's outbreak.

The city of Milan is dispatching mobile vans with vaccines and other supplies to a different neighborhood every day. They reach out to the reluctant with flyers and social media posts, vaccinating 100-150 people a day with the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Rosi De Filippis, 68, got the shot after pressure from a daughter.

'úIn any case, it became sort of mandatory,'' De Filippis said. 'úIn the beginning, we didn't know everything we know today. So I decided to go ahead with it.'Ě

Businesses in Italy and France are grudgingly accepting the passes, amid concern over how private companies can enforce public policy. Denmark's experience suggests compliance gets easier with time -- and rising vaccination rates.

'úThe first couple months weren't good,'Ě recalls Sune Helmgaard, whose restaurant in Copenhagen serves hearty classic Danish fare. In the spring, vaccination rates were still low and customers couldn't always get tested in time.

But with more than 80% of eligible Danes having received at least one shot and more than 60% fully vaccinated, Helmgaard's business is back to pre-pandemic levels.

'úPeople feel safer,'Ě he said, 'úso Danes are quite happy to show their pass.'Ě

____

Associated Press reporters across Europe contributed.

--

More AP stories on the coronavirus pandemic:


https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic

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