Covid-19: compulsory vaccination, a hypothesis long dismissed by Emmanuel Macron

Covid-19: compulsory vaccination, a hypothesis long dismissed by Emmanuel Macron
Covid-19: compulsory vaccination, a hypothesis long dismissed by Emmanuel Macron

FACING THE DELTA – The government is working on a bill to make the Covid-19 vaccine mandatory for caregivers, based on the observation that the vaccination rate remains too low. The executive, and Emmanuel Macron first, had hitherto been hostile to coercion.

Vincent Michelon – 2021-07-02T12:32:00.000+02:00

To face the Delta variant and hope to achieve collective immunity, will it be necessary to resort to constraint? The hypothesis of compulsory vaccination, born in the first weeks of the vaccination campaign, is now on the table. The Prime Minister announced Wednesday a consultation of elected officials on the subject and the government is working on a bill establishing the vaccination obligation for caregivers, too little immunized at this stage.

Government spokesman Gabriel Attal said on Thursday on LCI that this obligation reserved for caregivers could be introduced before September, in order to combat the risk of a 4th epidemic wave in France.

Last May, the Academy of Medicine had already advocated, in an opinion, to resort to the obligation not only for caregivers, but also for particularly exposed professions, such as security forces, teachers and travelers in transit. . The same Academy which, last September, suggested compulsory vaccination against influenza for caregivers, arguing the insufficient coverage against this virus.

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Covid-19: the challenge of vaccination

A turnaround for Emmanuel Macron

If this debate on the obligation returned at regular intervals, the hypothesis had been constantly rejected by the government. First, for a political reason. Last fall, even before the vaccination campaign started, Emmanuel Macron had made this commitment to the French. “I also want to be clear: I will not make vaccination compulsory”, he assured during his solemn address on November 24, 2020.

A commitment recalled elsewhere in his interview at Brut, in early December, where the head of state invoked the difficult vaccine acceptance. It must be said that at the time, the French still seemed reluctant to receive a dose – opinion has changed drastically on this subject in the past seven months, and nearly 55 million injections have been given to date. “I am not in favor of compulsory vaccination for this vaccine”, he had explained. “I believe much more in the work of conviction through transparency.” Emmanuel Macron also recalled that the debate existed even for vaccines known for a long time. “There was a very big democratic debate in our country, with vaccines that we knew by heart, [pour lesquels] we had decades of hindsight. “

Caregivers still at the heart of the debate

The subject nevertheless resurfaced with regard to the medical and paramedical professions. At the beginning of March, the relative slowness of the campaign for caregivers (first the over 55s, then all professionals) had revived the debates. In an open letter, Olivier Véran solemnly called on them to be vaccinated, recalling that Covid-19 was currently the main nosocomial infection in health establishments.

The Minister of Health had then clearly mentioned the possibility of compulsory vaccination. “I am convinced that the coverage rate has increased”, he explained the day after this open letter. “If we find that despite this […] That was not enough, so I would seize the National Consultative Ethics Committee (CCNE) to ask it the question of whether it is ethical to refuse to be vaccinated when one is a caregiver. This could lead us to make additional decisions. We will see, we are not there yet. ”

The threats were ultimately not carried out and CCNE was not consulted on this matter. It must be said that the situation had changed significantly in the spring, with the rise of vaccination within the medical professions. While the coverage rate was still insufficient, 7 out of 10 caregivers had received at least one dose at the end of April.

A question of public health

On the political side, few are those who wanted to put the subject on the carpet, in the majority as in the opposition. Emmanuel Macron again ruled out this option at the end of May. “If we want the nation to resume normal life, as many people as possible need to be vaccinated. But I respect everyone’s life, which is why we did not make it compulsory,” explained the head of state. “I prefer to walk by conviction.”

A strategy that now seems to be gaining ground, especially in certain professions, such as nurses and nursing aides. And which now leads the executive to take measures that it wanted to avoid. He is not, however, the only one to have evolved on the subject: according to a recent survey, nearly three quarters of French people are in favor of the introduction of a vaccination obligation for caregivers, and 6 out of 10 French people, to an obligation for the entire population.

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