Wed | Oct 20, 2021

Unvaccinated healthcare workers face suspension

Published:Thursday | September 16, 2021 | 12:10 AM
Rachid Ouchem, a medical worker from the Plaisir Hospital, attends a protest gathering outside the Health Ministry in Paris on Tuesday against a law requiring them to get vaccinated by Wednesday or risk suspension from their jobs.
Rachid Ouchem, a medical worker from the Plaisir Hospital, attends a protest gathering outside the Health Ministry in Paris on Tuesday against a law requiring them to get vaccinated by Wednesday or risk suspension from their jobs.

PARIS (AP):

Healthcare workers in France face suspension from their jobs starting Wednesday if they haven’t been vaccinated against COVID-19. With as many as 300,000 workers still not vaccinated, some hospitals fear staff shortages will add to their strain.

Vaccines are now compulsory for medical care, home care and emergency workers in France, and Wednesday was the deadline for such staff to have had at least one shot. Failing that, they face having pay suspended or not being able to work. But a top court has forbidden staff to be fired outright.

The mandate was approved by France’s parliament over the summer to protect patients and the public from new surges of COVID-19. More than 113,000 people with the virus have died in France, and health authorities say most of those hospitalised in the most recent surge weren’t vaccinated.

“It’s aimed at one thing: protecting hospitals, protecting health care workers, protecting our fragile populations,” government spokesman Gabriel Attal said Wednesday. “We are not stigmatising anyone. We are making everyone take responsibility.”

More than 90 per cent of French healthcare workers are vaccinated, Attal said, and polls suggest most people support the vaccine mandate for medical staff. The government health authority said Tuesday that means about 300,000 health workers remained unvaccinated.

While 83 per cent of French adults are fully vaccinated, a small, vocal minority of people are opposed to the coronavirus vaccines, including some healthcare workers.

Many cite incorrect information about the vaccines circulating online, worry about their long-term effects or want more time to decide. Others are angry at President Emmanuel Macron’s government and the mandate, not the vaccines themselves.