They were to accompany general practitioners in the vaccination campaign against Covid-19 from February 25.
But for lack of a sufficient quantity of doses, and faced with the difficulties encountered by companies in identifying their “target” employees, meeting very specific criteria (aged between 50 and 64 years, and suffering from comorbidities), less than 10% occupational physicians, according to our information, or 500 at most (out of a total of 5,000), were able last week to inject the ten doses allocated to them each.
"Until last December, we were not allowed to vaccinate directly," explains Denys Brunel, president of the Service aux entreprises pour la santé au travail (SEST) of Ile-de-France.
This act is considered as care and we are only authorized to support or prevent.
And not to cure.
Like the 230 occupational health services that cover the national territory, his association provides, for an annual fee, health services such as medical examinations or the implementation of prevention systems, to 6,500 businesses in the Ile-de-France region, ie 100,000 employees.
"But the pandemic has changed the situation," continues the president.
And the regulations have evolved in order to enable us too to lend a hand, by mobilizing our health personnel.
"Barely nine days to organize everything"
Except that the pitfalls have accumulated, making the task of occupational health services difficult if not impossible.
First obstacle: very late instructions.
The General Directorate of Labor (DGT) did not send the necessary information until February 16.
“It was far too late to prepare, deplores the occupational physician of a large CAC 40 company. Barely nine days to organize everything and order the necessary doses.
Covid-19: start of vaccination in the workplace, how does it work?
Another difficulty: the obligation of confidentiality.
“Unlike general practitioners, who call patients who may meet the criteria directly by telephone, companies cannot approach their employees directly,” continues Denys Brunel.
It would violate medical confidentiality.
As a result, to inform their employees, companies only have at their disposal display in the premises (not necessarily very effective in this period of intensive teleworking), or sending emails.
Confidentiality prevents meetings in the workplace
The priority given to certain populations to be vaccinated leads to the establishment of medical confidentiality.
A provision which does not allow vaccinations to take place in professional premises.
Unlike what happens with the flu.
Still according to the DGT, it is thus “preferable” to consider the vaccination of employees in dedicated premises, in this case those of the health services.
"We have around 5% of the employees of our member companies, potentially up to 5,000 people who could be vaccinated," continues the president of SEST.
They must therefore go to our premises, in Issy-les-Moulineaux (Hauts-de-Seine), to benefit from the injection.
Do the difficulties end there?
Because of an insufficient number of doses and the pre-emption of most of those available by general practitioners, part of the occupational health services had to postpone their vaccination campaigns.
That of the SEST was to start on March 2.
Everything was ready: emails had been sent to member companies;
a dedicated space had been set up, with three distinct rooms, a waiting room, one for the secretariat and one for the vaccination itself.
"We were able to go up to 90 vaccinations during the day, but we had to postpone", laments Denys Brunel.
A new date is scheduled for Tuesday March 9.
His teams are crossing their fingers that, this time, the stewardship follows.