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French parliament passes mandatory COVID vaccine law despite protests

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
France's Health Minister Olivier Veran answers questions at the National Assembly in Paris on July 20, 2021. (Photo by AFP)

Despite nationwide protests against coronavirus restrictions, French lawmakers at the National Assembly have made COVID vaccination mandatory for health workers to curb a fourth wave of infections.

Prior to the passing of the disputed legislation on Monday, French protesters taking part in rallies against COVID measures were suppressed by riot police, who fired teargas and water cannon to disperse the demonstrators.

The protesters expressed grievances over the economic hardships they are facing, worsened by the government’s restrictive measures to tackle the pandemic.

The new bill not only makes coronavirus vaccination compulsory for caretakers and health workers in both the public and private sectors, but also forces people to obtain a special health pass showing they have been either vaccinated or tested negative if they want to get on long-haul flights and train rides, or gain entry to certain public places like museums, concerts, theaters, pools, etc.

French parliamentarians ignored the protesters' demand for "freedom" and approved the bill to make COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory.

The restrictions, which expire on November 15, need a final green light from the Constitutional Court to become official.

In the meantime, France is bracing for a fourth spike in COVID-19 cases. The expected new wave has been attributed to the highly contagious Delta double-mutant coronavirus.

Already, daily infections and hospitalizations have been gradually increasing in France.

As of Sunday, about 33 million people, less than half of the population, have received one or two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Experts from France's Institut Pasteur said earlier this year that at least 90 percent of the adults needed to be inoculated to trigger a natural mechanism known as “herd immunity.”

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