Sandra Barona, a nursing home employee, is so opposed to COVID-19 vaccination that she said she might quit her job after French President Emmanuel Macron ordered all health care workers to be vaccinated. The caregiver for elderly residents at a nursing home southwest of Paris expressed distrust of vaccines she said were developed too hastily, even though regulators around the world have repeatedly said speed does not affect safety. However, she said she is particularly offended at how her freedoms are being trampled.
She referred to France’s founding principles: freedom and equality, saying that we have rights here. Macron’s opponents believe this could pose legal problems for Macron’s plans since he is discriminating between the vaccinated and unvaccinated. Macron said the vaccine was a matter of individual responsibility and collective freedom, since the Delta variant was driving the rapid spread of new infections.
COVID -19 is a highly contagious new variant with sharply falling vaccination rates, and health workers must be forced to get the vaccine, along with the general public. From mid-September, health workers will be screened for the vaccination; those who are not vaccinated against COVID -19 will not be allowed to work and their salaries will be suspended. Despite admitting she might opt for the COVID -19 vaccination if it were the only option for seeing her family abroad, Barona, 45, said she was willing to quit and choose another path.
It is a dramatic turn of events for a president who had also tweeted in December that ‘vaccines will not be mandatory. We are the land of (Louis) Pasteur’. However, official data shows that vaccination uptake among healthcare workers whose jobs involve close contact with the elderly and vulnerable is lower than expected in a country where vaccine skepticism has been high for years. According to Public Health France, only 45% of nursing home and long-term care facility workers have received two doses.
According to experts leading the vaccine rollout, about half of nursing home employees opposed vaccination. According to labor unions, one reason was that the French state, which recommended the vaccine, blamed nurses for their low wages and harsh working conditions. As a result of her health problems, nurse Martine Martin had previously refused the COVID -19 vaccine. When threatened with losing her job, she said she would get vaccinated. ‘They force me to do it, but I could suffer serious health consequences The state couldn’t give a damn’, she said.
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When asked if there would be exemptions for people with underlying health problems, Health Department officials did not immediately respond. Vaccination of nursing home staff is a concern for many relatives of elderly family members. Johanna Cohen-Ganouna said she was preparing to sue the French government for not making vaccination mandatory for health care workers months ago after she said her father contracted COVID -19 in hospital and died at the age of 76.
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