Want a COVID vaccine? Go to the Tour de France – .

Want a COVID vaccine? Go to the Tour de France – .

The Tour de France promotional village is a bit of a weird place. Installed in the host city at the start of each stage, it is an altar to the commercial juggernaut that is the largest cycling race in the world. There’s ghastly coffee, giveaways, explosive sound systems announcing the signature of runners and underage celebrities wandering around.

This year, however, Tour de France visitors may walk away with something more sustainable than a pocket of Cochonou sausages.

In a public health intervention led by the Sapeurs-Pompiers de France – the firefighters of France – you can collect the COVID vaccine of your choice free of charge and without an appointment.

A vaccibus in the wild.

The firefighters do most of the work, although the program is carried out in partnership with the French Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Health and Solidarity and the General Directorate of Civil Security and Crisis Management. .

The “Vaccibus”, which can be found at every Tour de France start along the Tour route this year, is less of a bus than a big red trailer with a door at each end. Inside, a doctor and two nurses, offering a first or second dose of COVID vaccines to Tour de France spectators and members of the race infrastructure. Among the vaccines offered are Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Moderna.

Firefighters are also part of the Tour de France promotional caravan, leading the race route past the peloton and lazily throwing key chains out the windows of a fleet of red Citroëns.

From the bitter experience of the Tour de France, I regret to inform you that key chains are among the least desirable items in the caravan.

The Vaccibus intervention is an attempt by the French government to forestall a rapidly growing epidemic in the Delta that threatens to send the country into a fourth wave. Some 62.5% of cases in France are currently of the more contagious Delta variant, with French President Emmanuel Macron warning that “if we do not act today, the number of cases will continue to increase very sharply and will inevitably result in an increase in hospitalizations from August. . ”

Macron, meanwhile, paid a high-level visit to the Tour de France yesterday. At the end of the stage, he offered Julian Alaphilippe a warm handshake while the French world champion was obviously trying to hear what his president was saying.

Macron then had an altercation with the Vaccibus, making a photo call in front of him at the misty and dead end summit of Luz Ardiden. In the process, he inadvertently prevented thousands of spectators from being able to leave.

It all sounds like a satisfying analogy for countries around the world that are lagging behind in their own immunization rates: watching politicians have their media moments and not being able to go anywhere.


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