Macron on unvaccinated people: "I really want to piss them off"
French President Emmanuel Macron said on Tuesday that he wants to “piss off” unvaccinated people as part of his strategy to fight COVID-19.
What he’s saying: Speaking to Le Parisien, a French newspaper, Macron said policies that ban unvaccinated people from cafes and theaters and otherwise limit their social activities are intended to be frustrating, adding: "I really want to piss them off. And so we will continue to do so, to the bitter end. That's the strategy."
The backstory: Macron said he won't jail unvaccinated people or "forcibly" vaccinate them, so COVID passports are the best path forward.
Flashback: His announcement of a COVID passport scheme last July was met with angry protests, but also a major uptick in vaccinations as people didn't want to lose access to bars and restaurants.
- While France had among Europe's highest rates of vaccine hesitancy early in the pandemic, 74% of the population is now fully vaccinated compared to 62% in the U.S. and 68% across the European Union.
- France is currently seeing a massive spike in cases thanks to the Omicron variant, but unvaccinated people continue to be far more likely to end up in the hospital.
Between the lines: Macron is also in campaign mode ahead of April's presidential election, and clearly sees the vaccine passport as a winning issue.
- Far-right challenger Marine Le Pen quickly accused him of seeking to divide people and "make the non-vaccinated second-class citizens."