France Toughens Vaccine Requirements for Medical Personnel.
The French government is in a standoff with tens of thousands of health professionals and caretakers over a new law that requires them to get the Covid-19 vaccine or face being fired.
Starting on Wednesday, hospital employees, ambulance drivers, retirement home workers, private doctors, firefighters, and individuals caring for the elderly or infirm in their homes — a total of 2.7 million people – will be required to provide proof of having received at least one vaccine injection.
The deadline was imposed by President Emmanuel Macron two months ago, but tens of thousands of caregivers have yet to be vaccinated.
The hardline CGT, one of France’s largest public sector unions, has warned that if the government suspends huge numbers of health workers and prohibits private-sector doctors from practicing, the country will face a “health disaster.”
At weekly rallies staged across France in the last two months, defiant health personnel joined opponents of a new coronavirus “health card” necessary for entrance to restaurants, cafes, and museums.
A union-led demonstration outside the health ministry in Paris drew a few hundred people on Tuesday.
“Whether we’re vaccinated or not, we’re against making vaccination mandatory,” Valerie, a 57-year-old nursing assistant who did not want to be identified, told AFP.
Due to a dearth of vaccinated anaesthetists, a hospital in the southern city of Montelimar has begun canceling dozens of procedures scheduled for next week, according to the BFM news station.
Henri Osman, the hospital’s medical commission director, told the network that “four theatres will be unable to function as normal.”
According to estimates released by the national public health ministry a week earlier, roughly 12% of hospital employees and 6% of doctors in private practices had not yet been vaccinated.
In late August, the FNMS, the national federation of ambulance personnel, reported that 13% of its members were still refusing coronavirus injections.
Amel Benothman, a 41-year-old nurse and father of three who works at a psychiatric hospital in Lille, told AFP that he was “too frightened” about the vaccine’s negative effects to get immunised, even if it meant losing his job.
During a demonstration in Lille on Saturday, he said, “I’ve previously had a mild case of Covid and think that the hazards exceed the advantages.”
France is not the first country to require vaccinations for those who work with the disadvantaged.
Last week, US President Joe Biden made vaccinations a requirement for millions of federal employees and contractors, as well as firms with over 500 employees. Brief News from Washington Newsday.