The care home workers who refuse to be vaccinated

There is a very large number of frontline workers in care homes, in France, who are refusing to be vaccinated against coronavirus.

The number could be as high as almost half of them, according to the government, and it's raising concern that nurses and other workers could be passing the disease on to those in their care.

Marie-France Boudret is one of them. She's a nurse at a home for the elderly. She personally watched a patient suffocate and die in front of her because of the pandemic. But when she was offered to receive a vaccination, she declined.

"I hear some vaccines are only for people of a certain age group, others for people of another age group. Then I think, logically, a vaccine is normally is for everybody, not just for a certain age group. I thought it was quite strange, quite mysterious."

"Based on what I hear on the news and on social media, it's true that it doesn't seem reassuring at all. It is very scary. So, I would rather wait a little longer and see how it goes."

The skepticism isn't shared by care home residents themselves, where only 20% haven't been inoculated yet.

The skepticism is also more nuanced than a general distrust of vaccines. Boudret and others Reuters spoke with say they've been scarred by what they perceive as lack of support as frontline workers, under-pay, and other working conditions. They blame the national government for much of it.

Malika Belarbi is with a union representing health workers.

"It's not that we want to say, 'We don't want to get the vaccine. We don't want to protect ourselves or the residents.' It's just that we have completely lost trust."

The number of workers refusing the vaccine has halved since December, the government says, although the phenomenon isn't limited to France.

Similar polls in Germany and Switzerland have seen high numbers as well.

Public health agencies and vaccine developers around the world have repeatedly said that they are not cutting corners during the rollout.

And, that the unprecedented speed of development has been fostered by the unprecedented urgency of a global disaster - and unprecedented resources pouring in to stop it.

Video Transcript

- There's a very large number of front line workers in care homes in France who are refusing to be vaccinated against coronavirus. The number could be as high as almost half of them, according to the government. And it's raising concern that nurses and other workers could be passing the disease onto those in their care. Marie-France Boudret is one of them. She's a nurse at a home for the elderly. She's personally watched a patient suffocate and die in front of her because of the pandemic. But when she was offered to receive a vaccination, she declined.

MARIE-FRANCE BOUDRET: I hear some vaccines are only for people of a certain age group, others for people of another age group. Then I think logically, a vaccine is normally for everybody, not just for a certain age group. I thought it was quite strange, quite mysterious.

Based on what I hear on the news and on social media, it's true that it doesn't seem reassuring at all. It is very scary. So I would rather wait a little longer and see how it goes.

- The skepticism isn't shared by care home residents themselves, where only 20% haven't been inoculated yet. The skepticism's also more nuanced than a general distrust of vaccines. Boudret and others Reuters spoke with say they've been scarred by what they perceive as a lack of support for frontline workers, underpay, and other working conditions. They blame the national government for much of it. Malika Belarbi is with a union representing health workers.

MALIKA BELARBI: It's not that we want to say, we don't want to get the vaccine. We don't want to protect ourselves or the residents. It's just that we've completely lost trust.

- The number of workers refusing the vaccine has halved since December, the government says, although the phenomenon isn't limited to France. Similar polls in Germany and Switzerland have seen high numbers as well. Public health agencies and vaccine developers around the world have repeatedly said that they are not cutting corners during the rollout and that the unprecedented speed of development has been fostered by the unprecedented urgency of a global disaster and unprecedented resources pouring in to stop it.