The rate of vaccination against the covid has put the brakes on in many of the rich countries and, unlike the first months of the vaccination campaign, when what was lacking were vials, now there is a lack of arms to inject the drug. In Spain, more than 75% of the population has already completed the vaccination schedule, but these high levels of coverage are still a chimera in some neighboring countries: the United States has stagnated above 50% and Italy is around 64%. France leads with 81%. Precisely, while half the world is struggling to get even vaccines that are still inaccessible to it, these three countries, which have accumulated unused doses, have to force their citizens to get vaccinated.
With varying degrees of severity, the three have opted for the imposition: from the most severe, Italy, which has ordered the pricking of all workers; going through the US directive to force vaccination of federal employees; to France, which ordered health personnel to be vaccinated before September 15. The controversy over the obligation, in addition, has jumped from the scientific offices and makes its way into the street: in Paris, for example, anti-vaccines are demonstrated 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 have imposed compulsory vaccination for all workers, a population of some 23 million people. The technical formula used precisely avoids talking about legal imposition. But the decree approved by the Government of Mario Draghi last Thursday requires having the green certificate that certifies having received the serum against covid-19 to be able to develop employment: either in the self-employed category, or as employees in companies. The pass will also be required for domestic assistance or home services, such as a plumber. These categories are in addition to the existing obligation to show the call green pass in movie theaters, theaters, gyms or restaurants.
The measure, approved unanimously in the Council of Ministers, has also been well received by Italians. In the center of Rome, next to the ruins of the Roman Senate in the Plaza de Largo Argentina, Daniel Polaco, 28, dispatches magazines and newspapers from his kiosk every day. He, his father and an employee work in the small business who must now also require the green certificate. “It seems fair to me. If you stay at home, do not get vaccinated, but if you go around, go to restaurants or the gym, for safety you have to do it. This is a global pandemic. And it is true that each job is different. Whoever does it outdoors can raise doubts, but you can’t go case by case ”. At the beginning of the pandemic, Pola did not think so. He even went so far as to say that he would not be vaccinated. “I thought there hadn’t been time to study it and check that it would not produce side effects. But I lived in the first person the drama of dead family members and I changed my mind ”, he points out.
Companies will find themselves with the need to control their workers through a QR code reader. Those employees who do not respect the new rule will receive fines of up to 1,500 euros. Those who do not have the vaccination certificate will be returned home and, if they do not present the document after five days, they will be suspended from employment and salary.
Marco Vitalli has a clothing store on the Via del Corso in Rome. 12 people work divided into two shifts. The establishment is almost always full of customers and the employees themselves consider it necessary to have a control. Pietro Buonerba, who has worked in 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, although it may raise some doubts about the freedom of each one to act as they want. The situation is extreme and it is important to act in a unitary way ”, he points out.
100 million affected workers in the United States
The White House has forced by decree to be vaccinated against the coronavirus to employees of the Executive branch and federal workers, in addition to drafting regulations that will require the same from companies with more than 100 workers on the staff. “My patience is running out,” said the president, Joe Biden, announcing the measure after the delta variant returned the infection rate to levels unprecedented for months in summer, with more than 1,000 deaths every day, almost all unvaccinated people. In total, about 100 million workers are affected, which translates to two-thirds of the United States workforce.
However, the political tradition that prevails in this country, to which the most recalcitrant right wing is now added under the brand of Donald Trump, immediately set off the alarms that denounced the unconstitutionality of the presidential decree. The Democrat’s decision was quickly contested and in more than 24 states the attorneys general have let the White House know that if he persists in the obligation, he will 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 is illegal”, claims Marjorie Lansky, 52 years old and a resident of Arlington (Virginia), regarding the obligatory nature of the inoculation. That of Mrs. Lansky’s son – Josh, 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 dismissal. The only exception for not complying with Biden’s executive order is alleging religious reasons. Lansky’s eldest son doesn’t. His mother thinks for him and assures that he will have to be vaccinated even though he has not done so until now, for purely “personal” reasons that he has not yet specified.
Like Josh Lansky, about 80 million people in the United States have chosen not to get vaccinated. Although the president has warned that if “the governors of the states do not help to stop the pandemic” he will use the power conferred by the presidency, Biden is aware that demanding the vaccination of all Americans is not possible, since, by After all, the obligation is the authority 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, can force him to submit to the now famous prick in the arm. “We are guinea pigs in the hands of multinational pharmaceutical companies,” says this 48-year-old man after leaving his job in the Treasury department.
More than 53% of Americans have received the full schedule of covid-19 vaccines, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
France: Macron wins the covid certificate bet
The date finally arrived: September 15. And that day, the few health workers in France who had not injected at least one first vaccine began to implement all kinds of stratagems to save their jobs. Without vaccination, according to the law announced by President Emmanuel Macron on July 12 and adopted in August, health personnel who were not vaccinated are exposed to having their employment and salary suspended.
Maria, a 49-year-old nurse at a hospital on the outskirts of Paris, took sick leave a week ago. “A little for this [la vacuna], and from exhaustion, and from mental and physical fatigue: we are under pressure ”. The vaccine? “If I had a choice, I would not wear it,” he replies. “But since you can’t choose …” And when will you return to the hospital? “I do not know”.
Like other toilets interviewed in Paris for this chronicle, Maria did not want to give her last name. Nora, who is 59 years old and works in the radiology service of another hospital, explains that a doctor friend signed a certificate that exempts her from being vaccinated. “My body does not support a foreign body, or drugs,” he alleges. Rachid, 45, a nurse in a psychology service, is on vacation. That his vacation is precisely now, says Rachid, is coincidence, but it allows him to avoid, at least until he returns to work in October, the critical date from which he faced a dilemma: either he got vaccinated or he stayed on the street.
In France there is no direct obligation to be vaccinated for the entire population. Macron opted for another strategy: incentivize vaccination. It did so, first, by forcing the presentation of the health certificate – which shows that its holder has been vaccinated or has 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 consisted of forcing health workers to be vaccinated under the threat of being unemployed.
The bet was risky for Macron, but it came out round. In a country where 60% of the population was reluctant to vaccines in January, today 81% are vaccinated, ahead of the United Kingdom, Israel and Spain. In a country where anti-vaccine skepticism among health personnel was worrying, today 90% of these workers have been vaccinated and, according to the Minister of Health, Olivier Véran, only about 3,000 have been temporarily suspended from paid employment, a figure minimum in a sector that employs 2.7 million people.
Some of the last recalcitrant people – such as Maria, Nora or Rachid – were on Saturday in the different demonstrations in Paris, already a very minority, against the health certificate. In one of them, in Trocadero square, there was also Cédric Baron, a 39-year-old psychologist who stopped going to work on Wednesday. He has neither been vaccinated nor plans to be vaccinated. “If I was vaccinated,” he says, “I would have my job.”