Despite the fierce backlash from users on social networks, the authorities and the majority of health professionals see vaccination as a logical step.
In the Principality, 66.12% of staff in health establishments have received at least one dose of vaccine, rising to 92% among doctors. This figure, which the Government considers insufficient, prompted it to formalise the controversial bill on compulsory vaccination: “Vaccination against COVID-19 not only enables anyone who is vaccinated to protect themselves very effectively, but also to protect others by reducing the risk of infecting them”.
In short, this legislation – publicly available on the National Council’s website – will affect all those who come into contact with vulnerable populations. This means health care workers, employees, volunteers and students in health care institutions.
In the event that a person is not vaccinated in time, it is specified that “this person may use, with the agreement of his or her employer, paid leave or compensatory rest”. In the event of suspension of work, 50% of pay is to be maintained for a maximum of four weeks. After this period, this person will not receive any aid.
The next and final step before the law comes into force is for the National Council to consider it in a public session in early September. The National Council specifies that “all aspects of the law, especially the most sensitive human aspects, must be understood” and that “the National Council will not fail to amend it as much as is necessary, as always with discernment, humanity and a sense of responsibility”.
A fierce backlash
This bill is controversial for a part of the population, already stunned by the announcement of the compulsory health pass. On the “Protest against the health pass in Monaco” Facebook group, some users are outraged: “this is unprecedented violence against health professionals. I didn’t think it would come to this in Monaco”. Others went so far as to describe the approach as “health apartheid”.
This announcement raises questions and speculation for some people. “I don’t know what we’ll do if they carry out their threat! Workers are already burnt out, we can’t find new staff, who will take care of the patients??? Because I know a lot of unvaccinated paramedics,” reads another user.
The ‘Syndicat des Services à la Personne de Monaco’ alleges, in a press release, that “certain providers of personal care services ask employees whether they have been vaccinated or not, which violates medical confidentiality and therefore constitutes a clear abuse of power”.
Reality on the ground
However, the professionals do not share this view. Frédéric Platini, Secretary General of Monaco Red Cross, told us during an interview: “Today, if the Government imposes it, and I already impose it myself, that our staff who enter the homes of people who are isolating and infected be vaccinated, that seems to me to be coherent”.
Regarding the bill, Mr Platini added that “we will apply the vaccination requirements to our volunteers for their safety. I refuse, and I did not have any throughout the COVID-19 period, to have infections linked to the working conditions at the Red Cross”. And what about the rest of the professions? The logic remains the same: “it is no longer for the safety of my staff, but for the safety of people who are at risk. I’m waiting for the bill, and once it is implemented, I will apply it”.
Indeed, Red Cross teams have been dealing with the pandemic from day one. “We saw the effects and we were in it so it makes sense to me to take steps to protect ourselves and others.”
“There will always be naysayers. It’s the same everywhere. We always have a right to an opinion. But above all I have the right to protect my teams,” concludes Frédéric Platini.
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