France and Greece introduce mandatory vaccines for health workers

13 July 2021, 11:05 | Updated: 13 July 2021, 11:09

Health care workers in Greece and France will face sanctions if they do not get vaccinated against Covid-19
Health care workers in Greece and France will face sanctions if they do not get vaccinated against Covid-19. Picture: Alamy

By Daisy Stephens

France and Greece are introducing compulsory vaccination for health and social care workers, in measures announced on Monday.

In a televised address, French President Emmanuel Macron ordered all health care workers to have coronavirus vaccines by 15 September, with those who refuse facing potential sanctions or fines.

"The equation is simple,” said Mr Macron.

"The more we vaccinate, the less space we leave this virus to circulate."

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A similar measure has been introduced by Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, with health care workers facing suspension if they do not get vaccinated against Covid-19.

Staff at nursing homes in the country have until 16 August to book their vaccination appointments, with a similar deadline to follow for hospital staff in September.

So far, most European governments have shied away from mandating vaccinations - although the UK is planning to make them compulsory for care home staff by October, with the potential to extend the measure to all healthcare workers.

Mr Macron announced the change in France after tens of thousands of people died in the country's nursing homes.

In both Greece and France, the measure is to protect the safety of patients and vulnerable people as well as increase vaccine uptake as a whole.

Just over 40 per cent of their populations have been fully vaccinated, but both are now seeing a fresh surge in cases of coronavirus.

In France, vaccines are widely available for anyone 12 and over, but take-up has ebbed in recent weeks because of vaccine hesitancy, a sense that the virus is no longer a threat, and because some people decided to put off their jabs until after summer holidays – although demand started to creep up again over the weekend in anticipation of Macron’s announcements.

In Greece, which has also seen a recent fall in the number of people booking their vaccinations, Mr Mitsotakis said in a televised address: “After a year and a half, no one can claim ignorance about the coronavirus anymore.”

He added: "It’s not Greece that’s a danger, but unvaccinated Greeks.”

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Both countries have also introduced Covid-19 passes.

In France, anyone who wants to go to a restaurant, shopping centre, hospital or get on a train or plane must either be fully vaccinated, have a fresh negative test, or be able to prove they have recently recovered from the virus.

In Greece, the measures have been taken a little further, with all indoor commercial areas including bars and restaurants only accessible for vaccinated people between Friday 16 July and the end of August.

Mr Macron’s announcements resulted in nearly one million people in France booking their vaccination appointments in a single day – a daily record, according to medical app Doctolib.