The French Government is introducing a tougher vaccine passport regime today. Now, only vaccination (and not natural immunity or covid tests) will count to allow access to cafes, libraries, sports facilities, and long-distance trains.
The near-hysterical arguments made by the French political class justifying this new pass are strikingly unguarded and reveal the inner dynamics behind the vaccine passport drive. These debates show that vaccines are no longer a simple medical product. Instead, the vaccine has become a way in which states are establishing their authority, and creating a new QR-code citizenship based on regular compliance with medical procedures.
Vaccination has become a test for entry into the civic body. The ‘test’ of the vaccine is not your degree of medical immunity, or the degree to which you stand to suffer personally from COVID-19 infection. (The vaccine pass goes down to the age of 12 in France, while in New York it applies to those aged five and above).
Instead, the new meaning of vaccination is an act of compliance; it is a matter of doing what is asked and expected of you. The French Prime Minister Jean Castex said that the vaccinated have “played the game”, they have done what is asked of them. President Emmanuel Macron said that the vaccinated, “near-totality of people”, have “adhered” or “subscribed” to what they were asked to do. These people are “responsible”. By contrast, it is a “very small” that is “refractory” or “resistant”. They are “irresponsible”, says Macron, and “a irresponsible person is longer a citizen”.