This summer again, the Covid-19 got the better of the famous Landes festivals of Dax. Pandemic requires, the taurine feria has given way to a vaccine fury in the neighboring town of Saint-Paul-lès-Dax, where needles are planted rather than banderillas. Even without a red scarf, or “olé” in the stands, the public is there. “As soon as Emmanuel Macron announced the extension of the health pass, on July 12, we went from 400 to 1,300 injections per day”, reports Gauthier Fremy, the general coordinator of the vaccination center managed by the Dax hospital. After two weeks of hyperactivity, the rate dropped to 700 or 800 daily bites, the initial capacity of the place.
The future vaccinated who come to the reception, Wednesday July 28, are not at the party. A highlighter in one hand, the list of appointments in the other, Maryse Lopes sees one of her friends arriving, her face closed.
“Are you okay, Anne-Marie?
– I don’t want to be vaccinated. I am forced to. What will happen to me in a few years, with this vaccine laid in a few months ? “
Anne-Marie Silva is a cashier in a supermarket near Dax. “We are in contact with the public and my director thinks that vaccination will become compulsory for the staff, explains the forty-something. I was the last recalcitrant on the team. We might as well do it now, let’s not talk about it anymore. “
She fears that she will regret it. “If something weird happens to me, I’ll always wonder if it’s not because of the vaccine.” Next door, his 18-year-old daughter years, Eva, fatalist : “If it happens, it happens.”
While treading the green linoleum of what is normally the Félix-Arnaudin cultural space, visitors believe they have landed in a humanitarian camp. A row of beige plastic chairs watch a row of white boxes, intended for pre-injection consultations. Then chairs again, then vaccination boxes, then chairs, before going out. Shy photos of Landes and Basque landscapes struggle to brighten up the whole.
More attentive to the frame than to the words of the doctor in front of her, Edwige Carlier finds the time long in the box.
“I am clearly there by obligation, because of the pressure of the vaccinated.”Edwige Carlier, came for his first injection
“At work, people judge me and don’t understand my arguments, confides this 46-year-old bank employee years. You know, I saw the life of a friend of my mother’s destroyed by multiple sclerosis. Hepatitis vaccine is suspected B [le lien n’a en réalité jamais été établi] to be the cause. I don’t want to go through the same thing. “
A bit annoyed, her daughters, Inès and Lou, try to reason with her. “I trust medicine more”, recognizes the eldest, 19 years old. With around thirty PCR tests on the clock, this great traveler intends to stop her collection of swabs there. Her 16-year-old sister hopes above all not to “fall over” like his entire high school class last year because of distance learning.
Not far away, a student with dyed orange hair pleads with the health pass. A few days earlier, his gang had to turn around in front of a bowling alley. All were vaccinated except him. “It’s boring.” Before him, an older lady shows up for her second injection. “I didn’t want to do it, but hey, we’re going on vacation. After the first dose, my heart went ‘tit tac tac tac tac’. Ohlala, I was not well at all.”
Times change, so do the vaccinated. “At the beginning of the year, people came to be vaccinated after having matured their decision, observes Aurélia Chebanier, a 40-year-old liberal nurse. There, they feel constrained and abrupt, without having made this personal journey. Are the benefits of vaccination sufficiently explained to them? “
Enthusiasm in the face of the injection has dropped by three tones, confirms her neighbor in the box, Carole Boiselle, a retired hospital nurse.
“People used to be calling for doses with a horn and a shout. Now they shoot their mouths down to the ground.”Carole Boiselle, member of the vaccination team
The staff recall with nostalgia “grandpas and grannies” who came to be vaccinated, of course “with long sleeves and three layers of clothing”, but with a smile. Thanks rained down, “as if we had won them the moon”.
Now, at the time of flip-flops and t-shirts, the vaccinated from the heart of summer “often don’t care about the pandemic” and devote their saliva to slandering the government. Caregivers adapt their speech. “I give a little biology class to those who are afraid of being transformed into GMOs, to explain to them that messenger RNA will not go into their DNA”, illustrates Evelyne Claverie, a retired country doctor.
“This mistrust strengthens my motivation. I want to convince these people and that it will emulate around them.”Evelyne Claverie, member of the medical team
Was reluctance inevitable? “Rather than brutally imposing the pass during the holidays, we should have given people more time”, estimates another volunteer from the center, Laure Gautier-Felizot, 50, oncologist at Dax hospital. “They have been deprived of everything for months, they finally wanted to get out, and here they are with their backs to the wall. Obviously, things get stuck.”
Sometimes the spirits heat up. On busy days, the wait at the entrance may have exceeded an hour and users have lost patience. One of them had to be called to order for having entered the center by the exit, in the hope of a priority injection. Once in front of the consultation boxes, “some growled and looked at you to make you understand that it was not going fast enough”, describes Laure Gautier-Felizot.
Nurses were faced with requests for “false vaccinations”, aiming to obtain the certificate without going through the injection box.
“Since we no longer deal with the convinced, the public is more and more difficult. It is worrying.”Gauthier Fremy, coordinator of the vaccination center
The tension reached a peak a week after the announcements of Emmanuel Macron. Swastikas, some upside down, have been discovered outside. A man then threatened a journalist from France Bleu Gascogne and broke into the reception of the center to insult the staff, accused of “kill people”. Arrested shortly after, a 69-year-old retiree admitted to the facts. “He would have lost his mother as part of the Covid and suffers, according to the psychiatrist expert, from pathological mourning”, specifies a judicial source. He is due to appear in court this fall.
Since the events, a security guard has been posted at the entrance. “All this worries me for the reception staff”, recognizes Maïté Héricotte, a 68-year-old retired nurse. “The young woman who found herself in front of this gentleman was afraid. She said to herself that if he had had a knife or a gun, she could have gone through it.” Her colleague Carole Boiselle adds, without fear: “When we see that people are killed in attacks, we say to ourselves that it could also happen to us.”
“Are you okay, kitten?” At the sight of the waiting syringe, a teenage girl has just collapsed in her mother’s arms. A reclining chair is dispatched to the box. Once lying down, the unfortunate woman is led to a calm and ventilated space. “I’m sorry, I slapped you in front of your mother, you would have seen her eyes!” the teasing Bérénice Farthouat, student nurse, in front of the hilarious and compassionate mother. “Do you know the recommendation of the Regional Health Agency? For each vaccinated child, a free McDo… and McFlurry supplement if uneasy!”
Like grumpy adults, fearful teens are one of the new things for the summer. In the center previously set up in Dax, a miner fell face down on the ground. He left with a broken tooth, reports a nurse. “Young people have a lot of discomfort related to anxiety, confirms Gauthier Fremy, a quiet force of 24 years. It’s not serious but it can be very communicative. “
“The other day, we had a teenager who fell. Behind, four others made dominoes when they saw her.”Gauthier Fremy, coordinator of the vaccination center
Here is a 13-year-old college girl in her turn in a wheelchair. “She felt bad a few minutes after the injection”, unroll his parents, Cédric and Marina Gomes. “It was the stress that subsided. And then she hadn’t had breakfast.” With a shot of orange juice and mist, the young girl, Carla, finds her way back: “But, Mom, I thought it was like taking a blood test, on an empty stomach.”
Adults also fear the bite. “I had a man in his forties, panicked, who put his hand on his arm as soon as I approached, says Maïté Héricotte. Her 7 or 8 year old daughter would say to her: ‘Daddy, it’s nothing’. Nothing to do, he left without his vaccine, poor man. “
Forget the sangria. Built into one side of the multipurpose room, the refreshment bar has been converted into a dose preparation room. “These are funny dishes that are served here”, warns Anne-Marie Cazaunau, one of the nurses behind the counter. “If some people doubt it, I assure you that it is good for the health.” Despite 12-hour days, the band of retired nurses takes pleasure in meeting in this working atmosphere. “Even with the doctors, we get along well and we feel respected, appreciates one of them. I have never known such a good relationship in my career! “
Lassitude gains more doctors, less numerous, who follow one another on shifts of four hours. One of them, exhausted, stopped to breathe, according to the supervision. “I’m sick of it”, says Laurence Caunègre, a general practitioner from the public health center of Dax hospital. “There is a lack of volunteers and it is always the same who are called.”
“I answer present because I could not admit that the center is closing for lack of doctors.”Laurence Caunègre, member of the medical team
Doctors’ vacancies are not yet all filled in August. Faced with the risk of understaffing, the Regional Health Agency has just revised its rules. A medical hotline could now suffice, which alarms the nursing corps, which threatens to withdraw.
Despite the fatigue, the team sticks together and fine-tunes its device. Early openings have taken place to accommodate people with mental disabilities, for whom the pace and hubbub of the center are not adapted. “We also did vaccinations outside, on the lawn, for people with autism”, adds the center manager, Gauthier Fremy.
“I feel like I’m participating in something important”, comments the doctor Evelyne Claverie. She has “blocked” all summer “until the end of September” for the vaccine fight. In October, she will finally offer herself a cut. Health pass in hand, direction Italy, to celebrate his wedding anniversary in Capri. The chorus she will whistle for is already known: the Covid is not over.