Europe on vacation, but vaccinations not taking a break

Camper vans are parked outside a cultural center on the outskirts of Milan, Italy, Wednesday, July 28, 2021, where people can receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for COVID-19. Photo Courtesy: AP

CARRY-LE-ROUET, France (AP) — Europe’s famed summer holiday season is in full swing, but efforts to inoculate people against the coronavirus are not taking a break.

Instead, with lockdowns easing despite concerns about variants and nations looking to breathe new life into their ailing tourism industries, vaccinations are being taken to vacationers. It’s all part of an effort to maintain momentum in campaigns to protect against the pandemic that has killed more than 1 million across the continent, including in the European Union, the United Kingdom and Russia.

From France’s sun-kissed Mediterranean coast to the azure waters of Italy’s Adriatic beaches and Russian Black Sea resorts, health authorities are trying to make a COVID-19 shot as much part of this summer as sunscreen and shades for those who are not yet fully vaccinated.

The new drive to take shots to tourists is a way of adapting to Europe’s annual summer migration when it seems whole cities empty of their residents for weeks. Those long absences from home pose a particular challenge for many nations European, where public health systems often focus on delivering vaccines to people based on where they live.

In Britain, where 70% of adults already are fully vaccinated, campaigns now are aimed at the younger generations with walk-in pop-up clinics in parks, a recent event complete with DJ at the Tate Modern museum and shots on offer to music lovers at the Latitude Festival.

Mickael Bomard, from Le Plessis-Robinson in the Paris region, recently took his 15-year-old son Nolan to a squat building just meters (yards) from the gently lapping waves of the Mediterranean at Carry-le-Rouet, a popular holiday spot near the port city of Marseille.

“Given the measures that are being taken now and the obligations when school starts again in September, we have decided to get him vaccinated,” Bomard said.

The vaccination center is giving shots to about 200 people each day — vacationers and locals — says Agnes Gatto, a nurse who runs the facility.

In France, where resistance to the vaccine has been particularly stubborn, a new rule came into effect last week that forces those who want to visit public sites ranging from cinemas to casinos to the Eiffel Tower to get a pass that shows they are either fully vaccinated, have tested negative for the coronavirus or recovered from COVID-19. The measure will be extended to restaurants and cafes from next month. That’s part of the reason more people are leaving the sand for a shot in the arm.

It was enough to push Bomard to take Nolan: “Not being able to go out for dinner together with the family, go to restaurants, and maybe having to find at the last minute an appointment in a packed vaccination center in September in order for him to go to middle school.”

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