By: V4 Agency
From Greece to France, different measures have been put in place to curb the coronavirus outbreak. V4NA has compiled a summary of where and for whom Covid vaccination is mandatory, as well as the background to these measures.
Where vaccination is mandatory for firefighters
The French government has made Covid vaccination mandatory from 15 September 2021 for healthcare workers in direct contact with patients, a measure that will affect 2.7 million people. Those who have not been inoculated could no longer work in the field. According to an announcement by Health Minister Olivier Veran on 16 September, some 3,000 workers who had not taken the vaccine had to be suspended the day after the decree came into force.
According to date published on 12 September, 89.3% of French health workers – for whom the vaccination was made mandatory – have received at least the first jab. In France, mandatory vaccination applies for those who work in hospitals, nursing homes and social services institutions, including those who provide home care, as well as firefighters and paramedics.
Articles 2 and 3 of the law on mandatory vaccination list in detail the facilities where employees must be vaccinated, even if they are part of the administrative or technical staff, while employees of external companies are not subject to this mandatory vaccination requirement. In France, the vaccination rate is the highest among private caregivers, reaching almost 95 per cent in the departments of Hauts-de-France and Normandy, in the north of the country.
The Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur region in the south of the country has the lowest vaccination rate for nurses, but even there it is close to 90 per cent (88.9%). In Corsica, the vaccination rate is 87.3 per cent.
The figures are the lowest in France’s overseas departments, with only 62 per cent of private nurses inoculated in Guadeloupe. The rates are similar in Martinique and French Guiana: 61.6 and 65 per cent, respectively.
The vaccination rate among those who work in nursing homes is also the highest in the two northern departments, Normandie and Hauts-de-France, over 90 per cent, compared to Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur and Corsica, at the bottom of the rankings with 76.7 and 79.6 per cent, respectively. As to firefighters, the vaccination rate in and around Paris stands at 95 per cent, while in the northern region of the country, only 68 per cent are inoculated.
Hospital employees have the best vaccination rate in Belgium
In Belgium, vaccination has not been made mandatory for the general population and – in an interview on 11 September – Prime Minister Alexander De Croo announced that mandatory vaccination would not be introduced. He justified the decision by stressing that it would be extremely difficult to monitor the vaccination status of individual people, and that sanctions against those who refuse to take the jab are also problematic.
However, the situation for healthcare workers is different. As a result of a consultation held by members of the Codeco Conciliation Committee on 17 September, mandatory vaccination has been introduced for them, as the general vaccination rate among health workers was too low. The decision was justified on the grounds that patients have the right to make sure that people caring for them would not infect them.
Codeco asked the Covid Commission and the federal ministers for public health and labour to take all necessary measures to develop an appropriate framework for the mandatory vaccination of healthcare workers.
Although the government has yet to adopt a specific decree, a growing number of health workers are getting inoculated.
Citing figures from Belgian public health institute Sciensano, the French-language Belgian newspaper L’Echo wrote – in an article published in late September – that nearly 90 per cent of those working in healthcare institutions are vaccinated.
These stats only include on staff employed at public institutions and do not cover figures for doctors and nurses in the private medical sector, although there are many private practitioners in Belgium.
In Belgium, vaccination rate is the highest among hospital workers, at 90.6 per cent nationwide. In Flanders, this ratio is 96.5 per cent, higher than the national average, whereas it is lower in Wallonia, at 83.9 per cent. The capital’s vaccination rate is lower than the national average, with 84.6 per cent of hospital staff having been inoculated.
Figures for staff employed in elderly care homes are worse, although the vaccination rate is still very high, 93.8 per cent, in the Flemish area. In Wallonia, far fewer people working in care homes have been vaccinated (78.5%), while in Brussels this figure is only 66.9 per cent, exactly 20 per cent below the national average of 86.9 per cent.
Mandatory vaccination for teachers now an option
In Italy, healthcare workers who have not been vaccinated against the coronavirus are not allowed to take up work until they are inoculated. Employers have the option of sending these employees on leave, suspending them after first notice or transferring them to duties where mandatory vaccination is not required by the regulations.
As of 31 August, regulations make it compulsory for all health workers to take up the jab. At the end of September, however, regional leaders asked the health ministry to present its position on the issue for fear that many health service providers will be unable to cope with a sudden drop in workforce. Statistics reveal that some 36 thousand healthcare workers are still unvaccinated in Italy.
Friuli Venezia Giulia region boasts the highest proportion of healthcare professionals who have not been inoculated, with nearly 10 per cent being unvaccinated.
Apart from healthcare workers, introducing mandatory vaccination for teachers and all those working in education was also on the agenda earlier. This plan was eventually abandoned, as regional statistics showed that roughly 85 per cent of educators had already received the jab. In light of this and given the current epidemic situation, the government does not consider it justified to extend compulsory vaccination to those working in education.
Consultation on mandatory vaccination for healthcare workers still under way
In the UK, vaccination is mandatory for employees working in elderly care homes from 1 October, and the government initiated a consultation on mandating vaccination for frontline health staff in September. According to statistics from the National Health Service (NHS), 92 per cent of NHS trust staff have received the first vaccine, and 88 have already received a second jab.
The government has also decided to consult with health and social care institutions on whether to make the jab mandatory for workers in the health field. The consultation will last for six weeks and it will look at potential requirements for non-clinical employees in hospitals and residential care facilities, should the vaccination be made mandatory for medical staff.
“Many patients being treated in hospitals and other clinical settings are most at risk of suffering serious consequences of COVID-19, therefore we must do whatever we can to protect them.
As the impact vaccines have on viruses causing respiratory diseases has become clear, we must explore ways to administer mandatory vaccines for both COVID-19 and th eflu, Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said.
In most countries, vaccine mandates apply to staff at nursing homes and healthcare facilities
n Hungary, the government decided in mid-July to make vaccination against Covid-19 mandatory for healthcare workers. At that time, Prime Minister Viktor Orban told public media that “…we are not in favour of making it [the vaccine] compulsory”, but health care workers must be required to take it. As he put it, “They heal people so we cannot risk their not being vaccinated.”
Mr Orban also pointed out that even before the pandemic there were a number of mandatory vaccines, without which one could not work in healthcare, and the list is now being expanded by another field.
In Greece, the government also decided to make vaccination mandatory in mid-July, with immediate effect for those working in nursing homes and extending the requirement to health workers starting in September. In Latvia, having a vaccination certificate has been made a pre-requisite to employment not only for those in health- and social care institutions, but also for those in educational institutions.
In Croatia, since the beginning of October, all health- and social care workers must possess a valid vaccination or recovery certificate, or a negative PCR test to continue working, according to Croatian Minister of Health Vili Beros,
who said “our basic goal and legal obligation is to prevent – as effectively as possible – the virus from penetrating our health- and social care system.”
He added that the measure’s goal was to protect everyone, instead of sanctioning or punishing people. Mr Beros stressed that healthcare workers can decide whether to take the jab or submit themselves to regular testing every three days.