While the health authorities fear a new wave of contamination “from July” in France linked to the Delta variant, the government is considering new measures to accelerate the vaccination campaign against Covid-19. Among them, making it compulsory for caregivers, expanding the health pass or even increasing local initiatives. Overview.
“It’s a race against time that is being played out in our country,” hammered Olivier Véran on Sunday July 4th. For several days, while the threat of the Delta variant has raised fears of a fourth wave of the Covid-19 epidemic, the government has continued to increase calls for vaccination.
According to the latest data published by Public Health France, 51.56% of the population had received at least one dose of vaccine by July 4, and 36.47% were fully vaccinated. Figures still far from the 80% advanced to achieve collective immunity.
To find the refractory but also people far from the health system, the government is considering new measures, playing on two fronts, incitement and coercion.
- Vaccination compulsory for certain professions
First measure mentioned by the executive: make vaccination compulsory for caregivers. While they were among the first to benefit from the injections, the vaccination rate leveled off. It amounts to 57% in nursing homes and 64% in hospitals, according to the French Hospital Federation (FHF).
>> To read also: “Covid-19: these caregivers who refuse to be vaccinated”
While the government is increasing consultations on this issue, several voices are now rising calling for this compulsory vaccination to be extended to other professions in contact with the public, or even to the entire population. Among them, that of François Bayrou. “From day one of the epidemic, I thought the only way out was vaccination. […] I always thought that it would end with the collective decision to make vaccination compulsory, ”the Modem boss said on July 4 on RTL.
“From a legal point of view, compulsory vaccination can be adopted if it is demonstrated that the benefit-risk ratio justifies it. For caregivers, who are in contact with patients, this is quite easy. And one can easily imagine that this is extended to other professions “, explains to France 24 Serge Slama, professor of public law at the University of Grenoble-Alpes. “A total obligation, however, seems more delicate because this relationship is less obvious.”
- Paying for screening tests
On June 23, the National Academy of Medicine, for its part, recommended removing free screening tests carried out “for personal convenience”, that is to say for obtaining a health pass or for travel, for example.
“Among the factors that can deter individuals from vaccination, we must question the repeated use of PCR or antigen tests which are offered free of charge on French soil unlike most European countries”, had advanced the Academy in a press release. Government spokesman Gabriel Attal reacted on France Info, explaining that this possibility would be considered from the start of the school year.
However, this idea is far from unanimous since it could slow down screening measures. “Moreover, this argument could be put forward to block such a measure,” said Paul Cassia, professor of public law at the University of Paris I, contacted by France 24. “If we restrict access to tests, we may consider that we are going against the general interest. It would not be surprising if the Constitutional Council opposes it. “
- Widen the scope of the health pass
“There is a health pass that is required for a number of activities, which are limited to very large gatherings, discos, travel […]. One can imagine that this perimeter could evolve, and that the health pass could concern more activities “, evoked Gabriel Attal at the microphone of France Inter on July 5.
This option is the one that has already been favored in several European countries. In Greece, for example, restaurant owners have the right to refuse access to their establishment to unvaccinated persons. Outside Europe, the United Arab Emirates have gone further: from August 20, in Abu Dhabi, unvaccinated people will be banned from entering shopping malls, but also schools or nurseries.
“However, this poses a legal risk,” said Serge Slama. “Extending the health pass would require changing the law, but the Constitutional Council had only accepted it under certain conditions, in particular that it does not include daily activities.”
- Vaccinate in the car, at the market … focus on proximity
In addition to the undecided and the refractory, the authorities must also seek out the groups furthest from the health system. To do this, they rely on a strategy of hyper proximity.
Nationally, several systems have already been put in place to deal with this problem, in particular call or SMS campaigns. In Seine-Saint-Denis, the poorest department in France, the Primary Health Insurance Fund has thus deployed local vaccination centers where people can come without an appointment. Vaccinobuses move in rural areas.
More generally, the government wants it to be possible to be vaccinated everywhere. You can now receive an injection at your vacation spot and the tourist sites themselves are transformed into vaccination centers. On July 3, it was thus possible to be vaccinated at the Avignon festival.
>> To read also: “Covid-19: the fear of a ceiling in the vaccination”
- Give doctors a list of unvaccinated people
For their part, liberal doctors are demanding access to the list of their unvaccinated patients. The objective: to be able to contact them and mobilize them. Olivier Véran was very favorable to this request but the National Commission for Informatics and Freedoms (Cnil) is slow to approve it, fearing breaches of medical confidentiality.
- Raffles, gifts … multiply the incentives
At the local level, some regions prefer to rely on incentives. Like what has been put in place in several states in the United States, initiatives are multiplying to motivate the population to come and receive their injection.
>> To read also: “Covid-19: round the world of incentive measures to be vaccinated”
In Nîmes, until July 18, 18-25 year olds who receive their first dose can register for a large raffle. The opportunity for them to win concert tickets, gift certificates or even bicycle subscriptions… Same principle in Argenteuil, in the Val d’Oise, with a “destination vaccination” initiative.
The various presidents of the parliamentary groups have until July 6, at the end of the day, to list their suggestions concerning compulsory vaccination, the expansion of the health pass or any other measure dedicated to encourage vaccination.