Caregivers, firefighters, paramedics, home helpers, and some constables must present a complete immunization plan or proof that they have received a first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine to practice their profession on Wednesday.
That’s the end of the two-month probation. Announced on July 12 by Emmanuel Macron, the vaccination obligation enters into force Wednesday, September 15 in France for several trades. Hospital and Ehpad employees (as well as firefighters, paramedics, and home helpers) and some gendarmes, assigned to the field or in contact with the public, are concerned. As of today, those who are not in good standing can no longer practice their profession. A complete vaccine regimen must be submitted, or evidence of the first dose of vaccine and a negative screening test of fewer than 72 hours.
This immunization obligation has made some health care providers jump and protests have taken place in recent weeks. According to Santé Publique France, as of September 7, just over 88% of caregivers had received at least one dose in hospitals and Ehpads, and this figure reached almost 94% among liberals.
A suspension of the employment contract
The conditions for sanctions are governed by Article 7 of the last Health Law, promulgated in August. If he has not received his two doses, the professional concerned by the vaccination obligation will be able to take days off, if available and if his employer accepts it. Otherwise, the employee’s contract is immediately suspended without pay. The breach of contract, initially mentioned, was censored by the Constitutional Council. The only exception is if a relevant professional has a contraindication to the Covid-19 vaccine, they are exempt.
On 26 August, during a press briefing, the Minister of Health, Olivier Véran, said that “the refusal to be vaccinated will not give rise to any stopping disease” promising “systematic controls for any prescription deemed suspicious”.
Additional sanctions are possible
Beyond the suspension of the employment contract, disciplinary sanctions may be applied. The suspension of office and therefore of remuneration can be combined with a disciplinary sanction, ranging from the reprimand to the temporary exclusion of the service”, observes Laurent Péquignot, a lawyer in public law and expert in public service law.
Also affected by the measure, the unvaccinated liberal doctors who continue to practice after 15 September are liable to a fine of 135 euros. If the caregiver is fined three times in one month, the fine is 3,750 euros. It may be accompanied by a sentence of six months in prison.
Physicians will be monitored by the Regional Health Agencies (RHAs). They will be allowed to learn about the vaccination status of doctors in direct connection with Medicare. The SIO will implement random controls, either directly at the workplace or digitally. Sanctions against unvaccinated physicians will be progressive: formal notice, prohibition of practice, and suspension of reimbursements. The College of Physicians may also decide to take action, with disciplinary proceedings as a last resort.