Covid vaccinations could become compulsory for health workers if they do not drop their resistance to getting the jab, France’s health minister warned Thursday.
The threat came on the first day that people in France were authorised to be outdoors without wearing face masks, as vaccinations pick up and new Covid cases drop.
The vaccination rate among health workers in care homes, however, is lagging behind that of the general adult population, 60% of which have now received at least one Covid jab, Health Minister Olivier Veran said.
He made a “solemn appeal” to health workers, especially in care homes, to “take the plunge”.
“If by the end of the summer there is no improvement we will have to consider making vaccinations for those specific groups obligatory,” Veran told BFM television.
“It is necessary and ethical to get vaccinated when you are in contact with vulnerable populations,” he added.
The coronavirus affected elderly people in care homes particularly severely, especially during the first and second virus waves last year before vaccinations became widespread and social distancing the norm.
Veran would not be drawn on a possible similar move for hospital staff, saying that “we’ll wait and see.”
New daily virus infections in France, at just over 3,000 on Wednesday, are projected to fall to 2,000 within a week and to 1,000 by the end of the month, Veran said.
A daily 11pm curfew will be lifted on Sunday, a week ahead of schedule.
Although people can now take off masks when outdoors, there are exceptions including when on busy shopping streets or at crowded events. Masks must still be worn indoors and on public transport.