The Higher Authority for Health opens the way for compulsory vaccination against COVID-19 for all caregivers on Thursday, 1 July. A vaccine liability scrutinized by the government. Prime Minister Jean Casteux is consulting lawmakers on the subject and is expected to present a text this summer.
To Professor Elisabeth Bouvet, Chair of the Technical Committee on Immunization at the Haute Autorité de Sainte, invited by Franceinfo on Thursday, 1 July, “If health professionals do not transmit the virus to health establishments, I think we can limit the impact of this increase in cases that are likely to fall.”
Franceinfo: In your opinion, should we forgo this mandatory vaccination for nursing staff?
Elizabeth Bouvet: We thought about it. As of now we have not given formal rules. It is true that the situation worries us a bit because caregivers and health professionals as well as medico-social personnel in establishments for the elderly are actually inadequately vaccinated. Above all, the situation is very odd. There are establishments where caregivers are highly vaccinated, others where this is not. This is why we really should be doing everything we can to encourage, especially so that the managers of these establishments do everything they can to make sure their employees are vaccinated, but that probably hasn’t been done yet. Obviously, in the coming weeks, it may be necessary to arrive at a liability if the said vaccination coverage does not increase significantly in health and medical-social establishments. It’s a hypothesis that we considered late last year by saying that we should play the card of persuasion and conviction first. Many things have happened that have been done. There are a lot of caregivers who are vaccinated. There was a significant impetus, but really, perhaps we should be using other means to manage to increase this vaccination coverage. The point is that, with the emergence of more infectious forms of Covid-19, caregivers play a role in transmitting these viruses, the wave that will likely be at risk of decline and be more severe. And there can be more consequences if caregivers are not vaccinated.
Are you able to identify the reasons for caregivers’ reluctance to vaccinate?
To the best of my knowledge, 70% of caregivers have already received at least one dose. However, it is insufficient. Categories of professionals do not react the same way at all. Most doctors are vaccinated and some people in certain occupations are more resistant to vaccination. This was already seen with flu vaccination. They are usually the same reluctance, i.e. fear of vaccines, a feeling that one does not put oneself at risk, a certain distrust in relation to management, administration, governance. This is a way of expressing a certain dissatisfaction towards the officials and authorities of health establishments. Compared to influenza vaccination, we have 30, 40, 50% of people who don’t want to be vaccinated and with COVID-19, we are seeing something similar.
Today, the European arm of the WHO announced that there was a 10% increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in the past week. Does this concern you and do you have any guesses in France for the start of the school year, especially with this famous Delta version?
Yes absolutely. We know we are seeing a lot more. There are many other cases which may not have been counted earlier. The means of diagnosis have been greatly simplified. We get many more cases than before. It is likely that, given the increased infectivity of the emerged forms, there has been an increase in transmission and therefore certainly in the number of cases being measured. In France, we know about it. There are models that have been made. We know what puts us at risk, we also know the impact of vaccination on transmission and we are almost certain that the number of cases will increase in the fall, especially associated with the delta variant. It is expected that this increase in the number of cases will not have any health impact, i.e. in terms of hospitalization and significant deaths. If most people at risk are vaccinated, if even health professionals do not transmit the virus to healthcare establishments, I think we can limit the impact of this increase in cases that are likely to occur at the same time. Chances are. September or October.