Covid-19 in France

French government considers mandatory anti-coronavirus jabs for key health staff

French politicians are considering plans to make anti-coronavirus vaccinations compulsory for front-line health workers.
French politicians are considering plans to make anti-coronavirus vaccinations compulsory for front-line health workers. REUTERS - STEPHANE MAHE

The French government is drawing up plans to oblige key health workers to get vaccinated after an outbreak of the coronavirus in a nursing home in south-western France was linked to a member of staff who had not received a jab.

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Prime minister Jean Castex has written to leaders of the main parliamentary groups in an effort to obtain cross-party backing for the move.

"I am, like all French people, shocked when we see the epidemic being reintroduced through those whose vocation it is to protect and care. This is not acceptable," Castex told the Senate.

"Vaccination coverage of healthcare workers remains insufficient overall to provide all the necessary protection to our fellow citizens," Castex said in his letter.

"In this context, I hope that the debate on compulsory vaccination can be held.

"It is our responsibility to prepare the country for the possibility of an epidemic rebound in the autumn.

"In this respect, it is important for me to gather your analysis on what could be the prevention and management measures allowing us to avoid imposing strong constraints on the French people once again."

Discussion

French MPs could - if the parliamentary table were to be reshuffled - discuss the measures at the end of the month.

However, it appears more likely to be debated after the summer holidays in September by which time France could be in the grip of another wave.

As football’s European championships culminate in Azerbaijan, Russia, Germany, Italy and England, officials from the World Health Organisation have warned that the matches - attended by more than 60,000 people in some cities - could be “super-spreader” events as fans from across the continent head back to their home countries.

On Friday, Olivier Véran, the French health minister, said that if compulsory vaccinations were to be brought in, they would only be for health workers.

"Vaccination does not have to be compulsory for the general population," he said during a visit to a vaccination centre in Villeneuve-la-Garenne, just outside Paris.

Toll

"If the issue is addressed for caregivers, it is not for the general population," he added.

More than 111,000 people have died in France from the coronavirus since January 2020.

With the Delta variant threatening to add more victims to the grim statistics, several top doctors have publicly backed compulsory jabs.

Jean-François Delfraissy, the head of the scientific council guiding the government, told France Inter radio station: "I was against the obligation to have staff vaccinated but I have changed my mind.”

The Synerpa, one of the main federations representing private nursing homes, says it is in favour of compulsory vaccinations.

However, the AD-PA, an association for directors of nursing homes is against the measure.

"We think that the vaccine is useful, but that it should not be imposed," said its president Pascal Champvert.

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