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France suspends 3,000 health staff as Europe targets vaccine refusal By Reuters


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO – Patients with coronavirus (COVID-19), are being treated in Cambrai, France on April 1, 2021 by medical workers. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol

By Matthieu Protard and Ingrid Melander

PARIS (Reuters) -Hospitals, care homes and health centres have suspended around 3,000 workers across France for failing to comply with mandatory COVID vaccination, the government said on Thursday, as countries around Europe weigh how far to go to combat the pandemic

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

Britain, meanwhile, says it is highly likely to require front-line health and social care workers in England to be vaccinated as part of a plan to contain the virus during winter.

France has seen a huge increase in vaccinations since President Emmanuel Macron took the decision to mandate a similar pass for all visitors to France.

With the mandate for workers in hospitals and care homes taking effect on Wednesday, its very concrete impact – unvaccinated staff forbidden to work – started to be felt

Nice Matin, a local newspaper, reports that almost 450 health staff – of which there are 7,500 – have been placed on leave in one Nice hospital.

But, the government ignored its effects.

Olivier Veran, Health Minister, said that it has not been chaotic, and added that there are 27 million people working in this sector.

Although there were a handful of cases in which it had affected healthcare, such as the use MRIs being temporarily complicated, the majority of suspended workers work in support positions, limiting their impact.

Veran stated that most suspensions were temporary and many people have made the decision to get immunized because they believe the mandate has become a fact.

But unions warn of likely disruptions to care, and just a few absentees in a team is enough to trigger a crisis, Emmanuel Chignon, a care home manager in Bordeaux told Reuters this week, pointing to how hard it was to hire staff in the sector.

His words were: “If the care workers who have left are not replaced, the work is going to fall on others and I fear an unvirtuous circular, with fatigue, exhaustion, and an increase of absenteeism.”


In Italy, where vaccination for health workers was made mandatory at the end of March, some have been suspended, but with numbers nowhere near those seen in France.

According to the Italian doctors’ union, 728 physicians in Italy were suspended due to not being vaccinated as of September 16.

Italy will now announce that all workers in the public and private sectors must have a Green pass. This means they need to show proof of having received at least one dose of vaccine, been tested positive or recovered from the disease. Workers who do not have a Green Pass can be suspended or denied pay.

Other countries like the Netherlands have opinion polls that show the majority support mandatory vaccination for healthcare workers. However, the vast majority of workers are opposed to this and the government says it won’t take any such steps.

A pass showing proof of vaccination, or a recent negative coonavirus test, will be needed to access bars, restaurants, clubs and cultural events.

The majority of Dutch are supportive of this measure according to polls. However, around 30% of people who refuse to get vaccinated oppose the bill. Critics argue that the measure is intended to make people get the vaccine.