France has suspended 3,000 health workers without pay for refusing the Covid vaccine.
Health Minister Olivier Véran said staff were notified in writing before the government-imposed deadline to have at least one dose.
Véran said that “several dozen” had resigned rather than being vaccinated, but with around 2.7 million health workers in France, “continuity of care is assured,” he said.
In July, President Emmanuel Macron told the staff of hospitals, retirement and care homes as well as firefighters that they had until September 15 to be partially or fully vaccinated.
The French health authority, Santé Publique, estimates that less than 12% of hospital staff and around 6% of private doctors have not been vaccinated.
Currently, just under 47 million French people aged 12 and over are fully vaccinated, ie 81.4% of the population; 86.1% received at least one jab.
“A lot of these suspensions will be temporary,” Véran told RTL radio. “They mostly involved support service staff, like those who worked in laundry or food preparation.” He said very few doctors and nurses had not been vaccinated. “Many of them have decided to get the vaccine now that the obligation to do so has become a reality,” he said.
The organization of public hospitals in Paris, AP-HP, said 340 of its staff had been suspended. The figures were higher in the south, where vaccine hesitation is more frequent: 450 staff were suspended in a hospital in Nice, 100 in Perpignan, 76 in Brest, and dozens in other large cities.
The number of cases in France fell to less than 100 per 100,000 for the first time since mid-July. There are now around 10,000 new positive cases per day, which means that health restrictions, including the health pass requiring people to get vaccinated, recover from Covid, or have a negative Covid test to enter in bars, restaurants, cinemas, museums and other public places, have to stay.
“The situation has improved considerably thanks to the massive vaccination of the French population, thanks to the barrier gestures, the vigilance of the people … and the health pass”, declared Véran. “The epidemic is not over but we are reducing it with cases down by 30% in one week, so we are moving in the right direction and we must continue to do so.
“Nine out of 10 people in France eligible for vaccination have been vaccinated. Today we are one of the most vaccinated countries in the world… the more we vaccinate, the better our chances of getting out. “
Véran defended making the vaccine compulsory for certain workers. “It was only the first day, but there was no chaos, far from it, and the number of people vaccinated in hospitals and nursing homes is well, much higher than it is. ‘would have been if the vaccine had not been made compulsory. “
He said most federations and orders of medical personnel had been consulted and approved the obligation to make the vaccine compulsory for health workers.
Thierry Schifano, president of the National Federation of Health Mobility, declared that 13% of ambulance and health vehicle drivers were not vaccinated “and do not want to be”.
“We risk real difficulties with an interruption in the treatment of patients and an increase in ambulance shortages,” he said. “We have to find a way to work in reduced conditions for a short time. “
Among firefighters, an estimated 80% are vaccinated, but around 100 have filed a second complaint with the European Court of Human Rights after their first was denied late last month.