While countries around the world are rolling out COVID-19 vaccines for their citizens, AstraZeneca is facing a new challenge with an increasing number of “anti-vaxxers” in France. The pharmaceutical company recently debunked links on the side effects in individuals who have received their jabs. But, now French President Emmanuel Macron's scaremongering about the AstraZeneca vaccine has posed an even greater challenge to the company.

In January, Macron said: "The real problem with AstraZeneca is just that it doesn't work as expected, because there we have very little information. Today, everything suggests that it is almost ineffective for those over 65, and some say over 60."

According to Sky News, recent polls in France show nearly half of its adult population may refuse inoculation leading health officials to worry for long term public safety. The vaccine skepticism is quite high in many other European countries where these “anti-vax” websites and platforms have been drawing in thousands of followers. 

French health sociologist Dr Caroline De Pauw said the scepticism in France comes from past health scares - particularly the hepatitis B jab in the 1990s.

She added: "When we do international studies we see that indeed the French are the ones who have the most doubts about vaccination. For example, the English are much more pro-vaccination than the French."

Some have even claimed that French culture is ingrained with much suspicion when it comes to vaccines and other forms of medication. 

One of the vital anti-vax websites is run from a tiny French village whose founder, Marie Werbregue, believes her daughter and others developed autism from childhood vaccines. Despite a broadly disputed claim by the medical occupation and pharmaceutical firms, there is still evident proof of their lack of confidence in vaccinations. The French are known to have been traditionally more reluctant to get inoculated. Compared to the rest of the world, French citizens are skeptical, even fearful.

With the increasing number of cases in France, the slow rollout hasn't helped at all. In addition safety about the AstraZeneca jab as well as the government’s preliminary rejection to offer it to the seniors have posed as major challlenges for the company. Even many medical specialists have actually declined to get the AstraZeneca vaccine.

More adults in Europe have started to cancel their appointments after finding out they would receive the AstraZenecaOxford vaccine. This comes despite new findings that showed how just one shot of the British-made jab reduces the risk of coronavirus symptoms in older people by 94 percent which keeps them from getting admitted to hospitals. 

According to a poll by Ipsos Global Advisor and the World Economic Forum, just 40 per cent of the population wanted to take the vaccine. 

France's National Medical Academy has now said that getting a COVID-19 vaccine shot should be made obligatory for nursing staff and others working with patients.

It will be quite the challenge to pressure millions of skeptical French citizens to get the vaccine especially in a nation which values its liberty.

vaccine-5897391_960_720 covid vaccine pixabay