France warns it could make covid jabs compulsory for health workers amid 'unacceptable' uptake

The French government has said that the level of Covid-19 vaccine uptake among those working in healthcare settings "is not acceptable" and said it could make the jab compulsory if vaccination rates don't improve.

"For the last year our health workers have been heroic, but the vaccination rate among them today is not acceptable," Gabriel Attal, the government spokesman, told Le Parisien newspaper on Sunday.

Echoing the words of the Health Minister Olivier Veran last week, Attal said getting the jab was the responsible thing for healthcare workers to do. "It would be irresponsible to refuse to be vaccinated when one is a health worker… Everyone is rolling up their sleeves to get us out of this epidemic. Now they have to roll them up to the shoulder to get vaccinated," Attal said.

Attal added that the government would continue to encourage those working in healthcare settings to come forward and get the jab but, if that didn't work, making it obligatory "remains a possibility."

Last week, Prime Minister Jean Castex revealed that only 40 percent of health workers had been inoculated against Covid-19. 

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The French Covid vaccination program lags behind many of its counterparts, including those in the US, UK and Israel. On Sunday, Castex announced that the pace of vaccinations had increased significantly, with healthcare workers inoculating nearly 600,000 people over the weekend. However, that figure is substantially below the UK daily average.  

French vaccine rollout has been hampered by supply issues and the EU's delayed decision to approve the relevant vaccines. President Emmanuel Macron also declared the AstraZeneca vaccine "quasi-ineffective" in older people, supposedly damaging the public's trust in the potential live-saving jab. Last week a government official claimed that only 24 percent of France's AstraZeneca doses had actually been administered.  

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