France wants healthcare workers to be vaccinated against Covid-19

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Members of the medical staff verify the information of a patient at the pneumology unit of the AP-HP Cochin hospital, in Paris on March 18, 2021 as the number of people hospitalized with Covid-19 is increasing in the region. French capital.

CHRISTOPHE ARCHAMBAULT | AFP | Getty Images

LONDON – President Emmanuel Macron once said that vaccination against Covid-19 would not be mandatory, but French lawmakers are currently preparing a new law that would effectively require healthcare workers to be vaccinated.

The debate comes amid concerns over low immunization rates among healthcare professionals nationwide. So far, only 57% of nursing home care providers and 64% of hospital staff have received at least one dose of a Covid vaccine, according to data shared by the French Hospital Federation.

“We are not talking about compulsory vaccination for all people in France. We are just talking about compulsory vaccination for people working in the health sector and who are in contact with the most vulnerable people in France”, said Bruno Le Maire, head of finance for France. minister, CNBC told CNBC on Tuesday.

“I think it’s a question of responsibility and of having compulsory vaccination for people who are in contact with the most vulnerable people of the French population every day, I really think that would be a wise decision” , added Le Maire.

Other members of the French government have expressed their support for the plan, namely the country’s Minister of Health, Olivier Véran. The French Hospital Federation also supported compulsory vaccination for the sector.

Italy decided to impose mandatory vaccinations on healthcare professionals in April and the UK also said in June that nursing home staff should also receive a Covid vaccine. However, the issue seems a bit trickier in France given that it has one of the highest vaccine skepticism rates in Europe. Nearly 30% of French citizens said it would be “very unlikely” for them to be vaccinated against Covid, according to a poll published by Eurofound. In contrast, the same survey showed that around 64% of people living in Europe said it would be “very likely” or “somewhat likely” to get the vaccine.

Nonetheless, 51% of the total population in France has received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, according to Our World in Data. This rate is only slightly lower than the EU rate, but around 15 percentage points lower than the UK’s current vaccination rate.

Stepping up vaccination has become even more urgent in recent weeks amid concerns over new mutations in Covid and an increase in infections caused by the delta variant.

The French government even warned earlier this week about the possibility of a fourth wave of cases at the end of July.

“For five days the virus (the infections) does not go down, but goes up because of the delta variant, which is very contagious. The English example shows that another wave is possible from the end of July,” said Véran this weekend. , according to the CNBC translation.

This could become another economic headache for France, which is currently projecting a GDP rate of around 5% for 2021.

“The only thing that could jeopardize the economic recovery in France is a new wave of pandemic,” Le Maire told CNBC’s Steve Sedgwick on Tuesday.

France has lifted several social restrictions in recent weeks, including the need for face masks outside and a nighttime curfew.

Macron is due to address the nation on this matter in the coming days.


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