Are compulsory jabs a good idea for the health sector?
After Italy, now France and Greece are also introducing compulsory Covid vaccination in the health and care sectors. French President Emmanuel Macron is giving workers until mid-September to be vaccinated, after which controls will be introduced.
Duty to serve the community
For Le Temps Macron's compulsory vaccination policy makes perfect sense:
“Since the beginning of the pandemic, and despite the initial chaos over masks and ventilators, the French state has acted according to the motto 'whatever it takes'. No distinction was made between groups, and the authorities helped everyone, without limits. ... It's in the light of this policy that we must see the president's move towards compulsory vaccination. ... Without explicitly saying so, the head of state defined a 'give and take' just before Bastille Day: since the authorities have done their duty, the citizens must now do the same in order not to endanger the community.”
Macron the magician
Marianne pokes fun at Macron's TV address on Monday:
“Apparently, Macron only needs to appear on TV with the Eiffel Tower in the background and announce his new plan to fight Covid-19 to turn science on its head. The proof: until now you had to wait fourteen days after the second dose for the vaccine to be effective. Now that time has been shortened to a week. ... The health minister claims to have checked with Alain Fisher, the government's 'Monsieur Vaccin', about this miracle. ... However, one anomaly remains: nothing has changed in the rest of the European Union.”
Save lives instead of spreading the virus!
Le Figaro supports Macron:
“Our freedom is limited by that of others. Even if we were willing to risk our lives for justifiable personal reasons, the right to do so would be relativised if exercising it endangered the health or even the lives of others. ... Those who want to work as carers have an ethical duty to save - or help to save - other people's lives. ... So they have a preventive duty to be vaccinated, as well as the freedom to practise a different profession if they don't want to be vaccinated. This is all the more true in a state hospital system that hardly gives individuals any choice as to whether they want to be treated there. Just as companies require every salesperson to have a driver's licence, it does not seem abnormal to require nurses to be vaccinated so that the hospital saves people rather than infecting them.”
Real News columnist Nikos Mpogiopoulos opposes compulsory vaccination:
“The necessary mass vaccinations cannot be achieved through blackmail or moral, psychological and economic pressure, nor with so-called 'privileges' or 'rewards'. Being vaccinated must not come to mean submitting to a reactionary dictate. It is a right that one exercises when one is fully informed and convinced, when the truth is told and transparency prevails. This is the way to bring people's own sense of responsibility to bear. Anything else merely reinforces irrational thinking, undermines the protection of public health and promotes the logic of division.”
The key to freedom
Le Soir sums up the debate as follows:
“The 'vaccination supporters' argue that it would be insane to let nurses endanger patients' lives by refusing to be vaccinated. The 'anti-vaxxers' reply that compulsory vaccination would deny people their individual freedom and ignore the risk of undesirable side effects and long-term consequences. A familiar debate. ... What is new, however, is the fact that a vaccine is definitely the key to freedom today. Of course, one can criticise that it's paradoxical when a duty is suddenly supposed to be a liberation. But in fact this is nothing out of the ordinary. Living in a society is by definition a matter of rights and duties, freedoms and restrictions, an equilibrium based on democratic rules. Freedom as a natural state - that's just a sham.”
We cannot afford layoffs
For the Frankfurter Rundschau, compulsory vaccination is hardly enforceable in view of the tense situation in the health sector:
“Legally speaking, compulsory vaccination for care staff could certainly be stipulated in order to prevent patients and those in need of care from being put at risk. Such rules already exist for other infectious diseases such as measles. But there is more an extreme shortage of staff in this sector. No hospital or care facility can afford to have staff handing in their resignations, to use unvaccinated nurses for gardening instead, or to fire them.”