Covid-19 : Towards the end of mandatory vaccination for caregivers?

Are times changing for suspended caregivers? It is too early to say, but the French National Authority for Health has just published an opinion in which it considers that the obligation to vaccinate against Covid-19 could be lifted for health professionals.

Par Alix Jouan

At the request of the French General Directorate of Health, the French National Authority for Health (HAS) has undertaken to update its recommendations regarding vaccination requirements and recommendations for healthcare professionals (diphtheria, tetanus, hepatitis B, etc.). The objective is to re-evaluate them “in light of the latest data on the epidemiology of the diseases concerned, the risks of transmission in the workplace and the vaccines available”. The institution will proceed in two stages, first looking at mandatory vaccinations (opinion given in March), then at recommended vaccinations (opinion given in July).

The hope of a return to normalcy

Like the others, the Covid-19 vaccination obligation will be re-examined. The HAS will judge, after a public consultation with stakeholders, “the relevance of maintaining it in light of the epidemiological situation and medical and scientific knowledge”.
However, the HAS already notes in its draft recommendations that “in the current context, the Covid-19 vaccination requirement could be lifted for all professionals covered by the law of August 5, 2021,” even though this vaccination would remain “strongly recommended.
What to finally let hope for a return to normalcy for the thousands of caregivers and health staff suspended without pay since September 15, 2021.

France is the only country left…

The HAS also reminds that “if some countries around the world have implemented at different times and for different categories of professionals vaccination obligations, most of these obligations have been removed or are suspended” (Italy, Austria, Germany). “In Belgium, the bill passed at the end of 2021 has not come into force. Several European countries have never considered mandatory vaccination for professionals (Sweden, Finland, Norway, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Portugal, Spain). In the rest of the world (Canada, United States, Australia, New Zealand), mandatory vaccination has been lifted in several countries between June and December 2022.
The watchword seems to be to break the deadlock of the French exception…

Caution, caution…

The lightning is therefore close. Nevertheless, it is better to remain cautious, because the result of the public consultation launched until March 3 could significantly modify this first opinion of the HAS. Indeed, many health professionals, who have been reluctant to lift the vaccination obligation for medical and ethical reasons, could continue to oppose it.
The HAS also specifies that its recommendation “in no way signals the end of the epidemic, which is still ongoing, and that it may be reviewed in the event of an unfavorable change in the epidemiology. Although this is unlikely…
Finally, the National Consultative Ethics Council for Health and Life Sciences (CCNE) will also have its say. Referred to by the Minister of Health and Prevention, it will have to give its opinion on the ethical questions raised by the vaccination obligations of professionals and their consequences.
Everything is not yet decided. Final opinion at the end of March.