Stop on return of caregivers not vaccinated against Covid. While the debate is gaining momentum, the Higher Health Authority, which was supposed to serve as a justice of the peace on the issue, is opposed to reinstating it.
HAS, whose opinions serve as the basis for the government’s public health decisions, said on Friday “in favor of maintaining the obligation to vaccinate against () Covid-19 personnel working in medical and healthcare facilities. social”.
This opinion has been eagerly awaited because in recent weeks there has been a renewed debate, especially in the political sphere, about the advisability of reintegrating caregivers who are not vaccinated against Covid.
Indeed, French caregivers – doctors, nurses… – working in hospitals or nursing homes, and in general employees of these medical institutions, have since last year been required to be vaccinated against this disease.
Thus, the unvaccinated are prohibited from engaging in their activities, which is condemned by part of the opposition.
Proponents of reintegration are mainly on the left, in France Insoumise (LFI), and on the far right, in the National Rally (RN), but also on the right in the Republicans (LR).
They argue that Covid vaccines have lost much of their effectiveness against disease transmission, although at an individual level they still protect against severe forms.
They also find it absurd to prevent caregivers from carrying out their activities in an understaffed environment, even though the proportion of those who are suspended from work in hospitals is extremely low.
Therefore, the opinion of HAS, which the government has not yet expressed, is of great importance, especially since parliamentarians just decided on Thursday that the possible restoration of guardians will be automatic, as soon as the authorities give their consent.
– Disagreements between doctors –
This green light is not on the agenda after all: “The data is not such as to call into question this vaccination commitment today,” HAS said.
This highlights the current high number of infections in France associated with the BA.5 lineage of the Omicron variant and contradicts the argument that vaccines are no longer of collective interest.
Even if the vaccines have largely lost their effectiveness against the infection, it has not completely disappeared, especially in the months after the booster dose, the authority says.
Thus, the obligation to get vaccinated contributes to “better protection of people being treated or accompanied, especially the most vulnerable”, concludes HAS.
This opinion is consistent with other recent positions, starting with the Medical Academy. The body, which, unlike the HAS, has no official role but carries the consensus of the discipline, expressed its “strong dissent” this week.
The slightly less clear-cut Science Council, on the brink of extinction after guiding the government’s Covid policy for more than two years, said Thursday it was “very low key” about the recovery.
But other great scientists, not overly suspicious of complacency towards anti-vaccine movements, on the contrary, believe that it is time to reintegrate unvaccinated caregivers.
This is the case of epidemiologist Antoine Flahaud, who, in contrast to HAS, ruled on Twitter on Wednesday that “the continued suspension of unvaccinated caregivers (was) no longer scientifically sound” in view of the loss of vaccine effectiveness.
“Blaming these healthcare workers for their irresponsible and illegal behavior in the past, yes. Do not restore them, no!” he decided, in turn prodding other doctors to express their disagreement.
Some opponents of reintegration do consider it unacceptable, not scientifically but ethically, because unvaccinated caregivers have failed in their mission of putting patients at risk.