France suspends 3,000 health workers as Europe targets vaccine refusal

Medical staff work in the intensive care unit (ICU) where patients with coronavirus disease (COVID-19) are treated at the hospital in Cambrai, France, April 1, 2021. REUTERS / Pascal Rossignol

PARIS, Sept. 16 (Reuters) – Hospitals, retirement homes and health centers have suspended around 3,000 workers across France for failing to comply with compulsory COVID vaccination, the government said on Thursday, as countries Europe are assessing how far to go to fight the pandemic.

While Italy is expected to announce later Thursday that proof of vaccination or a negative test will be mandatory for all workers, going further than any other country in the region, the Netherlands is planning a similar step – but only for go to bars or clubs.

Britain, meanwhile, says it is very likely that frontline healthcare and social workers in England will be vaccinated as part of a plan to contain the virus during the winter.

In France, President Emmanuel Macron’s decision in mid-July to require a similar health pass to go anywhere from restaurants to gyms and museums, and to make the vaccine mandatory for health workers , has considerably increased the use of vaccination.

With the mandate for hospital and nursing home workers coming into effect on Wednesday, its very tangible impact – unvaccinated staff banned from working – began to be felt.

According to the local daily Nice Matin, nearly 450 health workers – out of 7,500 – were suspended in a single hospital in the city of Nice, in the south of France.

The government, however, ignored the impact.

“It was not chaos, far from it,” Health Minister Olivier Veran told French radio RTL, adding that there were 27 million workers in the sector.

There have been a few instances where this has affected care, he said, such as the use of a briefly complicated MRI, but most of the suspended staff work in support roles, limiting the impact.

“Most of the suspensions are only temporary… many have decided to get vaccinated because they see the vaccination mandate is a reality,” Veran said.

But unions are warning of likely disruptions in care, and a few absent in a team is enough to trigger a crisis, Emmanuel Chignon, director of a care home in Bordeaux, told Reuters this week, stressing how bad he was. difficult to hire staff in the area. .

“If we cannot replace the caregivers who leave, the work will fall on the others, and I fear a non-virtuous circle, with fatigue, exhaustion and increased absenteeism,” he said.

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In Italy, where the vaccination of health workers was made compulsory at the end of March, some have been suspended, but with figures far removed from those observed in France.

As of September 16, some 728 doctors across Italy had been suspended for non-vaccination, the Italian Federation of Doctors said.

Italy is now ready to go much further and announce on Thursday that a ‘green pass’ – showing that a person has received at least one dose of vaccine, tested negative or recently recovered from the virus – will be mandatory for all workers in the public and private sectors. The absence of a Green Pass will result in the suspension of workers and the loss of their wages. Read more

In other countries, such as the Netherlands, opinion polls show that a majority of the public supports compulsory vaccination for health workers, with workers themselves mostly opposed, and the government said he would not take such action.

However, a pass showing proof of vaccination or a recent negative coronavirus test should be required from September 25 to go to bars, restaurants, clubs or cultural events.

Although polls have shown that a majority of Dutch support the measure, the pass is strongly opposed by the roughly 30% of the population who have so far refused to be vaccinated. Critics say the measure is aimed at forcing people to get the jab.

Report by Blandine Henault, Matthieu Protard and Ingrid Melander in Paris, Crispian Balmer and Francesco Zecchini in Rome, Bart Mejier in Amsterdam; Written by Ingrid Melander; Editing by Alex Richardson, William Maclean

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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