Dimitri Marck, 8, admitted, “It’s a little weird. I heard about this on TV, and now I’m here.” But he said he’s glad to get vaccinated so he can see grandparents for the holidays.

French schoolchildren clung nervously to their parents as they entered a vast vaccine center west of Paris on Wednesday — then walked excitedly away with a decorated “vaccination diploma,” as France kicked off mass COVID-19 inoculations for children age 5 to 11, AP reports.

It’s not a moment too soon for the French government, which is facing the highest recorded infection rates since the pandemic began but trying to avoid a new lockdown.

The health minister said Wednesday that the swiftly-spreading omicron variant is expected to be dominant in France by next week, but ruled out additional restrictions on public life for now. Officials are hoping that a surge in vaccinations will be enough to limit the mounting pressure on hospitals, where COVID-19 patients occupy more than 60% of beds.

At a “vaccinodrome” in the Paris suburb of Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, children lined up for first-day jabs Wednesday wearing masks adorned with puppies, flowers or Marvel superheros.

One worked out his nerves by rolling his toy car on any surface he could find. Another played games on his mom’s phone. Eight-year-old Alvin Yin cried, while his 9-year-old sister Noemie tried to comfort him.

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