French health workers risk suspension from today if they are not vaccinated against COVID-19.
President Emmanuel Macron announced in a speech earlier this summer that healthcare professionals and those who work with vulnerable people – including non-medical staff in nursing homes – should receive the vaccine.
He gave them until September 15 to protect themselves. The demand affects 2.7 people. Official figures released last week show that around 86% of those affected by the measures are fully vaccinated, suggesting many risk penalties.
During the same speech, Macron also announced the gradual deployment of a COVID pass – attesting that its holder had been vaccinated, tested negative or recently recovered from the disease – to visit cultural and leisure venues, bars and restaurants and major events as well as to the use of long-distance public transport. He also warned that non-prescribed COVID testing would no longer be free in the fall.
These measures were seen as an attempt to boost vaccination, which had run out of steam at the start of the summer.
One month after the announcement, Public Health France noted that an increase in the vaccination of health professionals had been observed in the previous weeks. Then, general practitioners (GPs) had the highest rate with 70.6% of them fully vaccinated while nursing assistants and junior doctors had the lowest with around 43%.
As September 7, around 84% of caregivers in nursing homes, hospices, hospitals and other facilities have received their full vaccination course, with the rate rising to 91.1% for independent health professionals such as general practitioners and physicians. nurses.
This suggests that thousands of healthcare workers have yet to be vaccinated and are at risk of losing their jobs.
Some healthcare workers have participated in weekly protests against the COVID health pass and compulsory vaccination.
“We are up against the wall. On September 15, some colleagues and I will be suspended without pay. The health system did not need that”, declared Corinne, a nurse for 30 years, during the demonstration of Saturday in Paris.
The demonstration in the French capital brought together around 120,000 people, according to official figures.
The CGT union warned of “a health catastrophe” if medical staff were no longer allowed to work. FO-Santé, another union, issued a similar warning, urging the government to extend the deadline and arguing that some establishments may be forced to shut down due to understaffing.
The government however remained steadfast, Prime Minister Jean Castex having stressed at the end of August: “We will not back down”.
The Minister of Health Olivier Véran for his part declared that “systematic checks” would be carried out.