Covid-19. Towards compulsory vaccination? What caregivers think in Toulouse

Through Thibaut Calatayud
Published on 6 Jul 21 at 6:46

In Toulouse and Occitanie, the vaccination rate among caregivers is still insufficient. (©Illustration / Adobe Stock)

After the calls, the obligation? In recent days, the hypothesis of a vaccination against Covid-19 made compulsory for caregivers has become increasingly thick. It must be said that we are still far from the objective set at 80% in the country. And theOccitanie is no exception to the phenomenon.

Wednesday June 30, 2021, Pierre Ricordeau, the director general of the Regional Health Agency (ARS) Occitanie, explained that 75% of liberal professionals had received at least one injection. In regional hospitals, two-thirds of caregivers are first vaccinated (nearly 75% in Toulouse University Hospital) while in nursing homes, just over half of them received a dose of vaccine. “It is the lower limit of what is necessary”, warned, the professor Laurent Schmitt, President of the Regional Conference on Health and Autonomy (CRSA Occitanie).

96 doctors in favor of compulsory vaccination for caregivers

Sunday July 4, 96 health professionals signed a platform in the Sunday Newspaper (JDD). In it, the infectious disease specialist Karine Lacombe or Gilles Pialoux, the head of the infectious diseases department at Tenon hospital in Paris, call on the government to make the vaccination of caregivers compulsory.

“We are asking him (the government, editor’s note) to implement the necessary measures so that the application of this decision is effective before the beginning of September.”

Tribune of 96 doctors in the JDD

If it is not yet sufficient in hospitals, it is especially in Ehpad that vaccination is insufficient. In his situation report of Thursday 1is July, Public Health France specifies that “vaccine coverage for professionals working in nursing homes and long-term care units (USLD) are estimated at 59% for the first dose and 46,9% for a complete vaccination ”.

The national average for primary vaccination is slightly higher than that for Haute-Garonne or 57% of staff are vaccinated (one dose) in some 130 nursing homes. This varies greatly, between 35 and 75%, depending on the establishment.

The ministry seeks to understand

To understand what is wrong, the Ministry of Health has launched an online consultation. He invites non-vaccinated nursing home staff to testify on their choice.

If it is more in favor of compulsory vaccination for health professionals, the doctor Hélène Villars, geriatrician at Toulouse University Hospital, does not want to make unvaccinated caregivers feel guilty. “I think it’s counterproductive. They’ve been on the bridge for 16 months. We have to use other ways of doing things to convince them, ”she said.

“Like many doctors, I have the impression that vaccination is the only way to avoid a fourth wave, a curfew and unpleasant things in the fall … It feels like a very broad immunization coverage would be really essential “.

Dr Hélène VillarsGeriatrician at Toulouse University Hospital

A race against the virus

“Convincing on a case-by-case basis”, this is what Doctor Villars will try to do with the less enthusiastic about vaccination. “We are all in this race against time, these variants and this virus. We must quickly achieve the immunization coverage desired by the professor Alain Fischer (Chairman of the orientation council for the vaccine strategy, editor’s note) and which seems to be 80%. You don’t have to wait. Last year it picked up around August 15th. There, we are already seeing some variants appear, so why lose this speed race when we can go to 80% very quickly, very early and all together? I invite everyone to a form of solidarity “, she argues while ensuring that she understands” the mistrust that there was around these vaccines, because the messenger RNA processes were little known to the general public “.

However, this lack of knowledge of the population should not slow down the use of vaccination as much:

“In the days of smallpox and polio, people did not know about vaccinology, but they lent themselves to it. Even today, there is a vaccination obligation to enroll children in school (against diphtheria, tetanus, polio, editor’s note) or to work at the CHU. When I was hired here, I had to show that I was vaccinated against hepatitis B. As we forgot the diseases, since they have disappeared thanks to the vaccines, people are no longer afraid of them. But there, the disease is tangible. I hope that one day we will be able to forget it thanks to the vaccine but, unfortunately, we are not there ” .

Dr Hélène Villars

“The obligation could be badly lived”

Aware that an obligation could cringe, the geriatrician hopes that a real dialogue will be established before the implementation of such a measure for caregivers.

“A German study has shown that an obligation without explanation could be counterproductive. You have to be careful, prepare well and debate. Otherwise, the measure could be badly experienced by some caregivers who have already paid a heavy price since the start of the crisis, ”she explains. To support her point, she recalls that 20% of medical professionals think about retraining after this crisis.

But beyond the caregivers, for the vaccine to be truly effective, she insists that it will take the support of a whole collective. “In absolute terms, to protect ourselves collectively, everyone must feel obligated”. According to Public Health France, Sunday July 4, 51,5% of the French population had received a dose of vaccine. A percentage still far from the 70 to 80% hoped for.

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