“The Academy of Medicine, the Scientific Council and the High Authority for Health have a convergent opinion (…) it is negative” and “we follow the opinion of scientists”, announced the Minister of Health François Braun, during a trip to Seine-et-Marne.
“They will not be reinstated,” he then confirmed on Cnews.
The minister specified that he would bring together “from the beginning of next week the trade union organizations to explain the situation to them”, “to see how we plan to get out of it perhaps in a few months”.
Shortly before this announcement, the HAS, whose opinions serve as the basis for public health decisions, said it was “in favor of maintaining the obligation to vaccinate against (the) Covid-19” for caregivers.
This opinion was eagerly awaited because the debates on the subject have resumed a lot in recent weeks.
French caregivers – doctors, nurses … – who work in hospitals or in nursing homes, and more generally the employees of these health establishments, have been obliged since last year to be vaccinated against the disease.
The unvaccinated are therefore prohibited from exercising their activity, a situation denounced by part of the opposition, from France Insoumise (LFI) to the National Rally (RN) passing the Republicans (LR).
They argue that the anti-Covid vaccines have lost much of their effectiveness against the transmission of the disease, although they remain protective on an individual level against severe forms.
They also consider it absurd to prevent caregivers from exercising their activity in a context of lack of staff, although the proportion of people suspended is extremely small in hospitals.
“Those who spread the rumor that the reintegration of caregivers would make it possible to solve all the problems of the hospital tomorrow, it is totally false”, estimated François Braun. “The latest figures show 600 nurses nationwide, so it wouldn’t be the magic bullet.”
The opinion of the HAS was all the more awaited since the parliamentarians had decided on Thursday that a possible reinstatement of the caregivers would be automatic as soon as the authority gave its agreement.
– Disagreements between doctors –
However, “the data are not such as to call into question this vaccination obligation today”, judged the HAS.
This highlighted the current large number of contaminations, linked to the BA.5 lineage of the Omicron variant, and goes against the argument that vaccines no longer have any collective interest.
Even if the vaccines have largely lost their effectiveness against contamination, it has not completely disappeared, in particular in the months following a booster dose, judges the authority.
The obligation to be vaccinated therefore promotes “better protection of people treated or accompanied, first and foremost the most vulnerable”, concluded the HAS.
This opinion is in line with other recent positions such as that of the Academy of Medicine. This body, which unlike the HAS has no official role but carries the consensus of the discipline, expressed this week its “firm opposition”.
Slightly less clear-cut, the Scientific Council, on the verge of dying out after having guided the government’s policies against Covid for more than two years, said Thursday “very reserved” about reinstatement.
Other great scientific figures, not very suspicious of complacency towards anti-vaccination movements, believe, conversely, that it is time to reintegrate unvaccinated caregivers.
This is the case of epidemiologist Antoine Flahault who ruled on Twitter on Wednesday that “the maintenance of the suspension of unvaccinated caregivers (was) no longer scientifically based” in view of the loss of effectiveness of vaccines .
“Blame these health personnel for their irresponsible and illegal past behavior, yes. Do not reinstate them, no!”, He decided, pushing in turn other doctors to express their disagreement.
Some opponents of reintegration indeed consider it unacceptable not from a scientific point of view but from an ethical point of view, in the idea that non-vaccinated caregivers have failed in their mission by endangering patients.