Opinion

Why Making Vaccinations Mandatory in Europe Was the Right Move


TL;DR (4-minute read)

  • France and Greece are now requiring vaccinations for healthcare workers, following Italy’s mandate in April 2021.
  • These mandates are logical for the safety and job security of healthcare workers, because it helps both them and their patients to go to hospitals without fear of getting COVID-19.
  • Aside from just common sense, the mandate should pass because the new Delta strain of the coronavirus is raising concerns. Despite having a percentage of fully vaccinated citizens close to America, Europe is suffering from Delta strain-related cases. America’s coronavirus cases will also rise as the Delta strain makes its way to the US if we’re not increasing our population of fully vaccinated people.

GreekCityTimes/AthensBureau

The Situation

The healthcare industry has suffered immensely from the COVID-19 pandemic. Before the virus, hospitals were already cesspools of disease. Now, the coronavirus has  made the situation much worse. At the beginning of the pandemic, health care workers had to take extreme precautions to protect themselves from the infected patients who came in every day. Protective face coverings, layered clothes, and disinfectant agents were common in every medical facility and office. As the pandemic has progressed, however, our understanding of the virus has increased and precautions have been adjusted so health care workers can be as safe as possible and not worry all the time about their risk of infection.

Companies like Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson Johnson and others have created vaccines now so people can live without fear of the virus. Although being vaccinated put people at near zero risk of catching the virus, the vaccine is still voluntary. There are other benefits to getting the vaccine other than the protection from the virus. These benefits include being allowed to remove masks in most areas and permit more social gatherings. These perks haven’t been enough to get some people to get vaccinated. However, in France and Greece, the choice of being vaccinated is going away for healthcare workers. The countries are following in the footsteps of neighboring country Italy by requiring the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine to be administered to healthcare workers. France and Greece are both mandating vaccinations by September after Italy’s mandate back in April. The decision doesn’t come as a surprise for two reasons.

  1. Common sense
  2. The Delta Strain
(ScienceNews/Erin Garcia de Jesús)

1: Common Sense

Practically, it makes sense.

Being vaccinated allows our healthcare workers to feel safe in the hospitals they work in and treat patients to the best of their ability. More importantly, it allows the patients to feel safe with the doctors who treat them. There are already a lot of frontline workers who get mandatory vaccinations for diseases that they deal with such as hepatitis B or tuberculosis. These mandatory vaccination policies, however, are enacted by hospital boards and medical associations. The widespread nature of the coronavirus has led to these mandatory vaccinations being required by the law.

Furthermore, before this bill was even passed in France & Greece, healthcare workers there have been told that not getting vaccinated would lead to being banned from their job, and health care workers in Greece have been told they’d be suspended without pay until they are vaccinated. The vaccinations are mandatory not only through the lens of health, but also job security.

2: The Delta strain.

(Anadolu Agency/Peter Kenny)

These mandatory vaccinations are also in preparation for the new Delta strain of COVID-19. Europe as a country has suffered from the rising cases in coronavirus due to the new Delta strain, a strain first identified in India earlier this year that appears to be more transmissible than the original strain. With a new strain of the virus comes more cases that arrive in healthcare centers. After over a year and a half since the start of the pandemic, the world has advanced very far in the research and prevention of the virus. Although the Delta strain is new, it’s still similar to the original strain of coronavirus which makes the current vaccines that are available that much more valuable and effective. Having health care workers/staff vaccinated is a great measure to allow for hospitals to remain safe places where treatment is given instead of cesspools that can also serve as infection sites.

Will the U.S. require vaccines in healthcare?

There seems to be no incoming mandate in the United States for mandatory healthcare vaccinations. However, a coalition of healthcare organizations has recently come out with a statement saying that healthcare workers should have compulsory vaccinations and that they could help increase the current vaccination rate in the country as it has for other diseases in the past, such as influenza. 

This coalition of the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America, the Infectious Diseases Society of America, and five other medical groups has been supported even by Dr. Anthony Fauci. Although there has been backlash to the idea, there are multiple prominent organizations for our country to follow in the footsteps of the aforementioned European ones. The country, however, still has a long way to go before we can reach this full-scale healthcare vaccination state and we can only hope that it happens soon with the Delta strain of coronavirus in our country’s midst.

Dr Anthony Fauci (The New York Times)

Sources

https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2021/07/13/vaccine-mandates-health-care-workers/

https://www.cnn.com/2021/07/13/europe/france-greece-coronavirus-vaccine-health-workers-intl/index.html

https://www.bmj.com/content/374/bmj.n1797

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2021/07/13/coronavirus-latest-updates/

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