France, the last country in Europe to reinstate its unvaccinated healthcare workers – but under what conditions?

In August 2021 a law was voted in France requiring health professionals to be vaccinated against Covid-19. It came into effect on September 15th. Those who refused to submit to what they considered to be an experimental injection, were told they were no longer allowed in their workplace. Similar laws were also voted in other countries such as Italy, Greece and in several States in the US. However, France seems to have accomplished a “feat” that no other country dared attempt…

When the world opened up again after the crisis, when the facemasks and the vaccine mandates were dropped in most places, and everybody started to live again – quietly and without much media attention – the French government upheld the mandatory vaccinations for the healthcare workers contrary to other countries. Months passed; scientific proof confirmed what most people already knew; the covid vaccines did not protect against transmission nor did they protect against reinfection. What health officials had claimed was the “foundation” for mandatory vaccinations had simply disappeared.

And still the days, the weeks and the months went by with no policy changes. Local rallies were held in support of the suspended workers, money, food and clothes were collected to help those in need who didn’t know how they would be able to pay their mortgage nor their rent and sometimes not even their groceries. Many had to rely on family and friends for survival, others went into early retirement. Some left France to work abroad, some moved on and changed careers, some slept in their car trying to make ends meet and sadly, some ended up taking their own lives in despair…

Their status as “suspended” gave them no right to a salary nor unemployment benefits. Still under contract, they were in limbo, not out of a job… but not earning a penny. Possibly the hardest part to bear was the silence – a big portion of the French population, not to mention the world population, did not know that they remained suspended and what that implied. You mentioned it to someone, and they just said they couldn’t believe it was true, they thought you were mistaken.

Besides the doctors, nurses, dentists, gynecologists, surgeons, etc. who took care of patients directly, there were also other professions that had to leave their jobs if unvaccinated. Firemen, administrative personnel working in the healthcare sector – any professional with ties to healthcare and unjabbed had to go, not to mention all the students who were unable to pursue their medical studies because they could not get an internship when unvaccinated.

It’s difficult to say how many there really are of the “suspended”.

The government likes to cite numbers like 3000, other non-governmental estimates go as high as 15 000. The true number is probably somewhere in between.
Attempts were made by some political entities to raise the question of reinstating the suspended workers in the French parliament during autumn and winter 2022, but to no avail.

In February 2023, in the hope of getting some international attention to the ongoing political stranglehold in his country, Doctor Gregory Pamart sent a video message to the world. On March 11th a big gathering also took place in Lyon with suspended health professionals and activists from all over France uniting to make their voices heard.
This video includes Dr Pamart’s message, the organizers of the event explaining the urgency of giving French hospitals a complete make-over and reinstating the suspended workers as well as images from the demonstration in Lyon.

Finally, after 18 excruciating months, on March 30th 2023, the HAS – La Haute Autorité de Santé – changed its recommendation. The covid-19 vaccines are hereby only recommended and no longer mandatory for health professionals.
The questions that remain are the reinstatement conditions – will they retrieve their unpaid salaries? Will the law of August 5th be repealed or only suspended? Those who choose to go back to their jobs, will they be able to put the exclusion and alienation they have been subjected to behind them?

Whatever happens, one thing is sure: The brave men and women who stood up for their bodily autonomy, their freedom to say no to an experimental treatment and who have stood their ground until now at great personal cost will forever be heroes. It takes an enormous amount of courage and spirit to do what they have done and in doing it they have inspired thousands to also fight for their right to medical freedom.

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