According to the French government, the vaccination commitment is a huge success. The risk of suspension significantly increased vaccination coverage among health care personnel.
France has always been a country where there is a great deal of mistrust in vaccination. In the face of this, President Macron chose to play for power. It was announced in July that health care workers had to be vaccinated. At first he wanted to have someone refuse to expel him, but the Constitutional Court prevented it.
Now unvaccinated employees are punished with suspension without pay. The government has announced strict controls and fines for employers who still hire non-vaccinated people. The checks are carried out by regional agencies that have access to employee vaccination records. Health Minister Olivier Veran said recalling patients would not be tolerated. Suspicious cases will be investigated systematically. “We hope that workers who hesitate will be convinced by the rigor shown,” said Amelie Werder, director of the regional health agency for the Ile-de-France region.
The French government says the policy has done its job. The health care vaccination rate has gone from 64 percent at the beginning of May to more than 90 percent now. Even Civil Service Minister Amelie de Montchalin predicts that only 1% of health care workers will continue to refuse. “Our policy is focused on one thing: protecting hospitals, healthcare workers and vulnerable groups,” said Gabriel Atal, a government spokesman. “We don’t stigmatize anyone. We let everyone take their responsibility.”
At the end of July, 161,000 people demonstrated against the duty to vaccinate, but the resistance seems to have faded. On Tuesday, several hundred demonstrated at the Ministry of Health in Paris. However, a large group of workers, some estimated as 6 to 8 percent, still refuse to be vaccinated.
One of the naysayers is medical secretary Vanessa Perotti from the Paris suburb of Clichy. Her last working day was very short at the hospital where she works on a Wednesday. She received a letter telling her that she is currently suspended and can leave. “This is disgusting. I’m not being injected just for work,” Beiruti told Reuters news agency. This is not ethical, we are free to do whatever we want with our bodies.”
Although the vast majority of health care workers comply with the vaccination obligation, hundreds of thousands of employees still refuse to be vaccinated. It’s a big problem, Pascal Schampfert, president of the Association of Directors of Institutions for Older Persons, told Franceinfo radio. “We have been asked to suspend rejections while our sector suffers from a chronic staff shortage for which the state is responsible,” Schampfert said. “In some institutions, no medicines will be delivered and no injections will be given if the nurses have to be stopped. This puts the lives of some residents at risk.”
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