Covid-19: these caregivers who refuse to be vaccinated

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The debate on the compulsory vaccination of caregivers against Covid-19 continues. While the executive must increase consultations on Monday, especially around this issue, France 24 questioned caregivers who refuse to be vaccinated.

For several days, the debate has been swelling in France. Should we or should not make vaccination against Covid-19 compulsory for caregivers? In a column published on July 4 in the Journal du dimanche (JDD), 96 doctors, including department heads who have become media figures of the pandemic, have asked the government “to take the decision now to require vaccination” for any nursing home or hospital employee “exposing or exhibiting people for whom (he) is (responsible) at risk of contamination “with Covid-19. They demand a measure “effective before the beginning of September” to “avoid a fourth wave”, a fear reinforced by the rapid progression of the Delta variant, very contagious.

While the government is working on a bill to this effect and the Prime Minister, Jean Castex, is due to receive from Monday the leaders of Parliament and local elected officials to address this issue, the Minister of Health is is said to be in favor of this measure. “Asking a caregiver to get vaccinated is not pointing the finger at it,” said Olivier Véran, who attended a special edition of the Solidays music festival dedicated to caregivers on Sunday evening. It is a question of “asking them to go to the end of their commitment”, insisted the minister.

Fear of side effects

The vaccination rate of caregivers peaks at 57% in nursing homes and 64% in hospitals, according to the French Hospital Federation (FHF). As a risk of a fourth wave looms, the noose is tightening around those who are still not vaccinated. But some of the health professionals are clearly showing their reluctance. On social networks, they do not hesitate to share their position with the mention #IWillNot Vaccinate or within Facebook groups entitled “No to vaccination”, “Against the vaccine” or “Mutual aid for the unvaccinated”.

Sylvie, a nurse in a retirement home, refuses to comply with this injection. She is especially worried about possible side effects. “I do not trust their gene therapy. There is not enough hindsight for this product. It is being tested and the human being used as a guinea pig. For me, it is toxic,” explains she at France 24. A nurse in a psychiatric ward, Martin also shares these fears. “There is no certainty about the absence of side effects in the medium and long term,” he said. “Vaccination should only concern people at risk, namely the elderly and those with comorbid factors”, adds this caregiver, who specifies that it is not anti-vaccine and that it is up to date with all its other vaccinations. According to him, half of his colleagues share his point of view. Vaccination has become “a subject of tension”, he insists. “What will happen to those who refuse despite the obligation?” Asks Martin. For this nurse, a possible law could even “lead to a wave of departures”.

For a while, Anita, a nurse’s aide in a gastroenterology and palliative care department, also asked herself the same questions, like many of her colleagues. “I wondered how a vaccine could be effective and safe in such a short time,” she sums up. “We had no communication on what was happening, whether it was the disease, the vaccines, the treatments, whereas things had been totally different during the H1N1 where the explanations and the security were in place. . “ After some thought, Anita finally changed her mind and got vaccinated. “When you work in a service like mine, there is traffic, therefore entries, exits, always with the risk of meeting a patient with the virus. I did not want to infect my family and get sick,” says she does. “I also said to myself that it was not possible for them to inject a vaccine into a world population with a high risk of dangerousness.”

Vaccines already compulsory

On the union side, these same questions are coming back. “What is opposed to us most often is that there is not enough perspective on the side effects of the vaccine. Professionals tell us that usually, in the clinical research phase, the delays are much longer. longer than those we have known “, reports Daniel Guillerm, the president of the National Federation of Nurses. To reassure those who are hostile to vaccination, this union is primarily educational, but it is also in favor of compulsory vaccination for caregivers. “Today we have studies which show us that vaccination not only protects the individual, but also reduces the risk of transmissibility. It is therefore not inconsistent to include the vaccination against Covid in the vaccination schedule compulsory caregivers “, advocates Daniel Guillerm.

Four vaccines are already compulsory for staff in hospitals and nursing homes: diphtheria, tetanus, poliomyelitis and hepatitis B. The obligation of vaccination against influenza has also been included in the law since 2005, but was suspended by decree in 2006 , after the opinion of the Higher Council of Public Hygiene which considered that it “would risk altering the adhesion of professionals”.

In Italy, a law, which entered into force in April, already requires caregivers to be vaccinated against Covid-19. In the event of a breach, the offender, if he works in contact with the public, is assigned to another service or suspended without pay if the employer has no new tasks to offer him. Less than 3% of employees in the Italian health sector refused to undergo this vaccination. But 300 of them have taken legal action to obtain the lifting of this obligation. An appeal has been filed with the Brescia Administrative Court and a hearing is scheduled for July 14.

In France, LR senators and centrists have already tabled a bill in April to make the vaccination of caregivers compulsory. According to an Odoxa-Backbone Consulting study for Le Figaro and France Info published on 1er July, 72% of French people are in favor. They are also a majority (58%) to approve compulsory vaccination for the whole population.

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