The pace of vaccination against covid has slowed down in a good part of the rich countries and, unlike the first months of the vaccination campaign, when the bottles were missing, we now lack the arms to inject the drug. In Spain, more than 75% of the population has already completed the vaccination schedule, but these high coverage rates are still a pipe dream in some neighboring countries: the United States is stagnating above 50% and Italy is around by 64%. France leads with 81%. Precisely, while half the world is struggling to obtain even certain vaccines that are still inaccessible to it, these three countries, which have accumulated unused doses, must force their citizens to be vaccinated.
With different degrees of severity, the three opted for imposition: the most severe, Italy, which ordered flat tires for all workers; go through the US directive to require federal employees to be vaccinated; in France, which ordered health workers to be vaccinated before September 15. The controversy over the obligation, in addition, has leapt from scientific offices and made its way into the streets: in Paris, for example, the anti-vaccines demonstrate every Saturday against the guideline of the French government.
Italy: the first in the Western world to oblige
Italy is the first country in the Western world to make vaccination compulsory for all workers, a population of around 23 million people. The technical formula used precisely avoids speaking of legal taxation. But the decree approved by the government of Mario Draghi last Thursday requires having the green certificate which certifies having received the serum against covid-19 in order to develop employment: either in the category of the self-employed or of employees in a company. Safe conduct will also be required for domestic help or home services, such as a plumber. These categories are in addition to the already existing obligation to show the so-called green pass in cinemas, theaters, gymnasiums or restaurants.
The measure, unanimously approved by the Council of Ministers, was also well received by the Italians. In central Rome, next to the ruins of the Roman Senate in Plaza de Largo Argentina, 28-year-old Daniel Polaco ships magazines and newspapers daily from his newsstand. He, his father and an employee work in the small business, from which he must now also demand the green certificate. “That seems right to me. If you stay at home, do not get vaccinated, but if you go out, go to a restaurant or the gym, to be safe you must do so. This is a global pandemic. And it’s true that every job is different. Anyone doing it outside can raise doubts, but you can’t do it on a case-by-case basis.” At the start of the pandemic, Poland didn’t think so. He even went so far as to say that he wouldn’t not vaccinated.” I thought that there had not been time to study it and check that it would not cause side effects. But I lived in the first person the drama of the deceased relatives and I changed my mind,” he points out.
Companies will find themselves with the need to control their workers via a QR code reader. Employees who do not comply with the new rule will receive fines of up to 1,500 euros. Those who do not have the vaccination certificate will be sent home and, if they do not present the document after five days, they will be suspended from their jobs and salaries.
Marco Vitalli has a clothing store on Via del Corso in Rome. 12 people work divided into two teams. The establishment is almost always full of customers and the employees themselves find it necessary to be in control. Pietro Buonerba, who has worked at the store for four years, has no doubts. “There are 23 million workers in Italy. If a small group decides to oppose vaccination, it puts us all at risk. The decision seems very good to me, even if it may raise some doubts about everyone’s freedom to act as they see fit. The situation is extreme and it is important to act in solidarity,” he underlines.
100 million workers affected in the United States
The White House has issued an executive order mandating coronavirus vaccinations for executive branch employees and federal workers, in addition to drafting regulations that will require the same of businesses with more than 100 workers. “My patience is running out,” President Joe Biden said, announcing the measure after the delta variant brought the infection rate down to levels not seen for months in the summer, with more than 1,000 deaths every day. almost all unvaccinated people. In total, nearly 100 million workers are affected, which represents two-thirds of the American workforce.
However, the political tradition that prevails in this country, to which the most recalcitrant right now belongs under the brand of Donald Trump, immediately sounded the alarm by denouncing the unconstitutionality of the presidential decree. The Democrat’s decision was quickly challenged and in more than 24 states, attorneys general told the White House that if he persisted with the obligation, he would face “legal action”. The vast majority of these states are Republican and have a high incidence of covid-19, as is the case in Texas and Florida.
“It’s illegal,” exclaimed Marjorie Lansky, 52 and resident of Arlington, Virginia, about the mandatory nature of vaccination. That of Ms. Lansky’s son – Josh, a postman – is one of those cases that is between a rock and a hard place: getting vaccinated within the 75-day grace period granted by the Biden administration or facing a dismissal. The only exception to violating Biden’s executive order is to allege religious reasons. Not Lansky’s eldest son. His mother thinks for him and assures that he will have to be vaccinated despite the fact that he has not done so so far, for purely “personal” reasons that he has not yet specified.
Like Josh Lansky, nearly 80 million people in the United States have chosen not to get vaccinated. Although the president has warned that if “state governors do not help stop the pandemic” he will use the power granted by the presidency, Biden is aware that it is not possible to require everyone to be vaccinated. the Americans, because, after all, the obligation is the power of each State.
With the Constitution as a witness, which guarantees his freedom, and appealing to the separation of powers, Jeff Cooper ensures that no one, not even the president, will be able to force him to undergo the now famous puncture in the arm. “We are guinea pigs in the hands of the pharmaceutical multinationals,” says this 48-year-old man as he leaves his post at the Treasury Department.
More than 53% of Americans have received the full course of covid-19 vaccines, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
France: Macron wins the covid certificate bet
The date has finally arrived: September 15. And that day, the few caregivers in France who had not injected at least a first vaccine began to practice all sorts of stratagems to save their jobs. Without a vaccine, according to the law announced by President Emmanuel Macron on July 12 and passed in August, unvaccinated health workers risk seeing their jobs and salaries suspended.
Maria, a 49-year-old nurse at a hospital in the Paris region, went on sick leave a week ago. “A bit for that [la vacuna], and by being fed up, and by mental and physical exhaustion: we are under pressure”. The vaccine? “If I had a choice, I wouldn’t wear it,” he replies. “But since you can’t choose…” And when will he return to the hospital? “I do not know”.
Like other health workers interviewed in Paris for this column, Maria did not want to give her last name. Nora, who is 59 years old and works in the radiology department of another hospital, explains that a doctor friend has signed a certificate which exempts her from being vaccinated. “My body can’t stand a foreign body or medication,” he says. Rachid, 45, a nurse in a psychology department, is on vacation. That his holidays are precisely now, says Rachid, is a coincidence, but it allows him to avoid, at least until his return to work in October, the critical date from which he is faced with a dilemma: either get vaccinated or stay on the street.
In France, there is no direct obligation to be vaccinated for the whole population. Macron has opted for another strategy: to encourage vaccination. It did so, first, by requiring the presentation of the health certificate – which shows that its holder has been vaccinated or tested negative in a recent covid-19 test – to enter cinemas, cafes, restaurants , museums, long-distance trains and planes, among other public spaces. The message: to have fun you have to get vaccinated. The other part of the strategy was to force health workers to get vaccinated or face unemployment.
The bet was risky for Macron, but it paid off for him. In a country where 60% of the population was reluctant to vaccines in January, it now has 81% vaccinated, ahead of the United Kingdom, Israel and Spain. In a country where anti-vaccine skepticism among health workers was worrying, today 90% of these staff have been vaccinated and, according to the Minister of Health, Olivier Véran, only around 3,000 have been temporarily suspended from employment. employee, a minimum figure in a sector that employs 2.7 million people.
Some of the last recalcitrants – like Maria, Nora or Rachid – were on Saturday at the various demonstrations in Paris, already in a very small minority, against the health certificate. In one of them, on the Plaça de Trocadéro, was also Cédric Baron, a 39-year-old psychologist who stopped coming to work on Wednesday. He has not been vaccinated and does not plan to get vaccinated. “If I was vaccinated,” he says, “I would have my job.”