Coronavirus vaccines should be made mandatory without delay for all health workers and other professionals who come into contact with people vulnerable to COVID-19, France’s top health advisory body recommended on Friday.
The French government closely follows recommendations made by the Haute Autorite de la Sante (HAS), which also advised using mRNA-based Pfizer or Moderna vaccines to slow the spread of the highly infectious Delta variant because they provided more protection than other jabs.
“While the number of new cases and the pressure on the hospital system remain relatively low, the dynamic of the epidemic in France is essential and could rapidly lead to a deterioration in the health situation,” HAS said in a statement.
President Emmanuel Macron is likely to address the nation on Monday on the progress of the epidemic and his government’s strategy to dampen the impact of what many scientists say is an inevitable fourth wave.
Government officials have said in recent weeks that mandatory vaccination for health workers was being considered as the now-dominant Delta variant causes a sharp upturn in France’s infection rate.
On Saturday, the country’s National Medicine Academy, a doctors’ society, pressed authorities to impose compulsory vaccination for everyone aged 12 and above.
HAS also said the government should start thinking about compulsory inoculation for the entire population, in order to be ready to take such a decision if it became necessary.
The body also recommended shortening the time period between the first and second vaccine doses and said people over 55 who received a first shot of the AstraZeneca vaccine should be given a second dose with an mRNA-based vaccine.
After falling from more than 42,000 per day mid-April to less than 2,000 per day in late June, the seven-day average of new infections has been climbing rapidly again since early July.