France desires medical workers to be vaccinated in opposition to Covid-19
Members of the medical staff are reviewing a patient’s information in the pulmonology department of the AP-HP Cochin hospital in Paris on March 18, 2021 as the number of people hospitalized with Covid-19 increases in the French capital.
CHRISTOPHE ARCHAMBAULT | AFP | Getty Images
LONDON – President Emmanuel Macron once said vaccination against Covid-19 is not mandatory, but French lawmakers are now preparing a new law that would effectively compel healthcare workers to be vaccinated.
The debate takes place amid concerns about low vaccination rates among health professionals in the country. According to the French Hospital Association, so far only 57% of nursing home nurses and 64% of hospital staff have received at least one dose of a Covid vaccine.
“We are not talking about compulsory vaccination for all people in France. We are only talking about compulsory vaccination for people who work in the healthcare sector and are in contact with the most vulnerable in France,” Bruno Le Maire, France’s Minister of Finance, said CNBC on Tuesday.
“I think it is a matter of responsibility and compulsory vaccination for the people who are in contact every day with the most vulnerable in the French population. I think it would be really a wise decision,” added Le Maire.
Other members of the French government have expressed their support for the plan, notably the country’s health minister, Olivier Véran. The French hospital association has also supported mandatory vaccination for the sector.
Italy decided in April to impose compulsory vaccinations for health professionals, and the UK also said in June that nursing home workers would also need to get a Covid vaccination. In France, however, the issue seems a little more difficult as it has one of the highest vaccination skepticism rates in Europe. According to a survey published by Eurofound, almost 30% of French people said it was “very unlikely” to receive a Covid vaccine. In contrast, the same survey showed that around 64% of people living in Europe said it was “very likely” or “more likely” to be given an injection.
Still, 51% of the total population in France have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 syringe, according to Our World in Data. This is only slightly below the EU rate, but about 15 percentage points below the current UK vaccination rate.
The intensification of vaccination has become even more urgent in recent weeks amid concerns about new Covid mutations and an increase in infections from the Delta variant.
The French government even warned of the possibility of a fourth wave of cases in late July earlier this week.
“For five days the virus (infections) does not go down, but increases due to the delta variant, which is very contagious. The English example shows that another wave is possible from the end of July, ”Véran said at the weekend, according to the CNBC translation.
This could become another economic problem for France, which is currently forecasting a GDP rate of around 5% in 2021.
“The only thing that could jeopardize France’s economic recovery is a new wave of the 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 outdoors and a night curfew.
Macron is due to speak to the nation on the matter in the coming days.