20 Minutes: The vaccination collective starts its work

The French news website 20 Minutes reports on the allotted body that has recently been convened by the French government to monitor the Covid-19 vaccination campaign.

Vaccination: The collective of 35 allotted citizen starts working on Saturday

Laure Cometti, 15/01/2021

The 35 allotted citizens representing the diversity of the French, as announced by Emmanuel Macron, are going to have their first work meeting this Saturday.

  • The citizen collective, tasked at the end of November by Emmanuel Macron to guarantee the transparency of the government’s vaccination strategy, is going to start its work on Saturday
  • It is composed of 35 citizens who are supposed to reflect the diversity of the French population and the different points of view regarding the Covid-19 vaccine.
  • It will meet regularly and will be able to interview experts. Its mission is to express the concerns of the population and formulate recommendations for the executive in order to assure the success of the vaccination campaign, lasting until the autumn.

This innovation is aimed at responding to the mistrust of the French toward the Covid-19 vaccine, and more generally toward the management of the crisis by the government. On November 24th Macron announced that “a citizen collective” would be created in order to “involve” the population in the vaccination campaign. This group of 35 allotted French people is now in place and is going to have its first meeting this Saturday. But what will this body do and how will it function? 20 Minutes explores.

Is this group representative of the population?

Not exactly, but this sample aspires to be representative of the diversity of the Frenchpeople. Allotted through the telephone, under the guidance of the Economic, Social and Environmental Council (CESE), the group comprises 18 women and 17 men. According to the CESE, all ages are represented, as are all regions and types of localities (large and small cities, rural areas, etc.). The same goes for levels of education (covering everything from no degree to graduate degree) and occupations. Members include farmers, workers, retail tradespeople, senior executives, lower management as well as the unemployed and the retired.

In short, there is quite a lot of diversity. As for their positions regarding the Covid-19 vaccine, they were questioned during the allotment in order to have the panel reflect the diversity of opinions. About 17% of the members of the collective are “rather worried”, whereas 45% are “undecided” and 38% are “favorable”. It is therefore not at all identical to the proportions in the populations, because according to the polls published this week, the Frenchpeople who do not plan to be vaccinated are about as many as those who do which to do so. [According to an Odoxa-Backbone Consulting pour Le Figaro and Franceinfo survey 56% of the Frenchpeople wish to be vaccinated, compared to 43% which refuse to do so. Another poll, by the Institute Elabe for BFMTV, has 47% as ready to be vaccinated, 40% opposed, and 13% undecided.]

What will be the body’s role?

The task of the collective, set by the government, is to “study the choices of the politics of vaccination”, but also to “express their opinions on the questions, fears, objections and ethical questions” that the vaccine arouses in the population.

It will make recommendations to the executive throughout the vaccination campaign, on three occasions. In the period starting on Saturday and lasting through March it will “accompany” the “preparation of the vaccination campaign of priority targets and then of the public at large”. An interim report will be presented by the CESE on February 23rd. From April to the end of July it will follow the public campaign, and then it will establish the “account and the follow-up” of the vaccination campaign.

How will it work?

The 35 will meet regularly, virtually for the moment given the restrictions, for 3 days each month. The will be managed by a special commission of the CESE. The will be able to watch experts and researchers questioned by the commission. The allotted will all work “in workshops”, i.e., in smaller groups focused on precise topics such as “vaccinodromes” (large vaccination centers) or mobile teams for vaccination at home.

Will it be effective?

The collective is starting to work after vaccination has started, and well after the vaccination strategy has been laid out. Is the collective, which was criticized by the opposition, late to the show? “We will have adjustments to make all through the course of the campaign”, responds Marie-Andrée Blanc, the chair of the CESE commission managing the collective.

In addition, in contrast to the 150 citizens allotted for the Citizen Convention for the Climate, the collective of 35 will not be tasked with writing measures or legislature bills. The government will be able to choose not to apply its recommendations. But it takes the risk of seeing the collective evolve into an echo chamber for criticisms of the vaccine. “The committee will provide transparency in our strategy and will prepare the public to the third phase of the vaccination that is expected to take place in the spring”, told us the office of government spokesperson Gabriel Attal.

In any case, the citizen collective allows the executive to paint a luster of transparency and “participation” over its crisis management, which was described as being too centralized and vertical by critics. As a response, the government has also had a website created (vaccinationcovid.lecese.fr) where internet users can share their criticisms and concerns regarding the Covid-19 vaccination.

2 Responses

  1. It’s not sortitional government by any means, but as an innovation in the running of focus groups it may have some merit. It’ll be interesting to see the outcomes – if, once this is all over, we could get hold of some postmortems on it, especially from within the French government itself, it could be very informative.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. the citizen collective allows the executive to paint a luster of transparency and “participation” over its crisis management

    Oops. Also not sure how it’s possible for 35 people to be “allotted through the telephone”, especially given the stratification requirements.

    Like

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