15.09.2021 Europe

Fears of hospital closures as France requires Covid vaccines for health workers

By Sarah Elzas with RFI
© Stephane Mahe/reuters
LISTEN SEP 15, 2021
© Stephane Mahe/reuters

A law requiring healthcare workers in France to prove their vaccination against Covid-19 or face suspension without pay comes into effect Wednesday, and tens of thousands remain unvaccinated, raising questions of how the health system will continue to provide service with the loss of staff.

The vaccination mandate affects some 2.7 million people, including hospital staff and private doctors, retirement home care workers and those taking care of the elderly at home, ambulance drivers, and fire-fighters.

They have to prove they have had at least one shot of a vaccine, a recent Covid infection, or a valid medical reason why they cannot get vaccinated.

Those who do not meet the requirements are to be suspended immediately, without pay, or can use their paid time off to extend the deadline. They must prove full vaccination by 15 October or face being laid off.

The vast majority of healthcare workers are vaccinated; the national public health agency last week estimated that over 88 per cent had received one jab, and over 84 per cent are fully vaccinated. But that leaves 12 per cent unable to work.

Late last month, the national federation of ambulance workers, FNMS, estimated that 13 percent of its members were still unvaccinated.

The CGT trade union has warned of a "health catastrophe" if large numbers of healthcare workers are suspended.

A hospital in the southern city of Montelimar reportedly has started cancelling surgeries scheduled for next week, because of a shortage of vaccinated anaesthetists.

(with AFP)

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