France is considering making Covid vaccines mandatory for health workers

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Amid low vaccination coverage among healthcare workers and after residents of a nursing home in France’s Landes were infected with the Delta strain of Covid-19, the French government is pursuing plans to require those working in the health sector to give the jab .

To prevent similar incidents in the future, legislation is currently being drafted that would require those who work in hospitals or nursing homes to take the Covid-19 vaccine. Prime Minister Jean Castex said on Wednesday that he would begin consultations on the subject “in the coming days”.

“I, like all Frenchmen, am shocked… to see the epidemic being reintroduced… by those whose vocation is to protect and nurture,” Castex said. “This is not acceptable.”

In the nursing home cluster, one of many in the region, 23 residents – 21 of whom were fully vaccinated – and six employees were infected with the variant. Nineteen of the cases were identified as the Delta variant. Three of the residents were hospitalized, but none were admitted to intensive care.

Officials have not announced whether the bill will be formally presented to parliament before the summer holidays or in September, but Health Minister Olivier Véran has indicated in a letter to directors of hospitals and nursing homes that health workers have until September to get their shots. . If less than 80 percent of staff are vaccinated by then, “we will pave the way for mandatory vaccination for health professionals,” the letter said.

Currently, less than 60 percent of nursing home workers and less than 64 percent of hospital workers are vaccinated, according to Alain Fischer, the government’s adviser on vaccination. “This is clearly insufficient,” he told the Sunday Journal (JDD). “They have to do it to protect patients. It is a principle of responsibility and an exemplary role.”

Fischer said he thought the legislation should apply to anyone in contact with the public. He said he feared insufficient vaccination coverage across the country could lead to a fourth pandemic in France. And he recalled that a single dose of a two-dose vaccine does not provide adequate protection.

The Hospital Federation of France (FHF) is in favor of mandatory vaccination for workers in contact with the public. The Synerpa, one of the main federations of private nursing homes, is also in favor of mandatory vaccinations.

In Sunday’s JDD, 96 of France’s key health professionals signed an open letter calling on the government to make the vaccine mandatory for “anyone who, in a public or private prevention or care institution or institution, or an institution for the elderly, has a professional activity which exposes him or her or the persons under his or her direction to risks of contamination”.

Caregivers should be vaccinated, they wrote, “because it is an ethical duty to protect the vulnerable people entrusted to their care”.

Other important scientific and medical figures have come along. Jean-François Delfraissy, chairman of the National Consultative Ethics Commission, told France Inter Radio on Wednesday that he was initially against requiring anyone to be vaccinated, but has changed his mind.

Two prominent union leaders called on employees of all companies to get vaccinated in Sunday’s JDD. “We solemnly call on employees who are not protected from the virus to be vaccinated without delay,” Laurent Berger, secretary general of the CFDT, and Medef president Goeffroy Roux de Bézieux wrote in an article published in the JDD Sunday. .

Support for the measure is not unanimous. Among others, the AD-PA, an association of directors of nursing homes, is against.

( Jowharwith AFP)