A 'failure in public health policy': fallout from French move to mandatory Covid vaccines

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On Monday July 12th President Emmanuel Macron announced that all healthcare workers in France will have to be vaccinated against Covid-19 by September 15th. He also hinted that if the Delta variant of the disease takes hold and not enough of the public get a jab then this obligation could be extended to the whole population. The announcement has had a mixed reaction among some healthcare staff. The president's words have also sparked a wider debate about the ethics of mandatory vaccination and highlighted some glaring weaknesses in French public health policy since the start of the Covid epidemic. Rémi Yang, Mathilde Goanec, Jérôme Hourdeaux and Donatien Huet report.

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“It was like being slapped in the face. All my colleagues are in a state of shock as well.” Malika Belarbi, a nursing assistant at the Boulogne-Billancourt care home in the western suburbs of Paris and a member of the CGT Santé trade union, was still angry a day after President Emmanuel Macron's address to the French nation on Monday July 12th. During his televised speech the president announced that nursing staff will have to be vaccinated against Covid-19 by September 15th. Health minister Olivier Véran later made it clear that under new legislation staff who did not comply would face having their contracts – and pay – suspended for up to six weeks.