About 3,000 health workers in France have been suspended because they have not been vaccinated against Covid-19.
A new rule, which came into force on Wednesday, made vaccination mandatory for the country’s 2.7 million health, care home and fire service staff.
But French Health Minister Olivier Véran said on Thursday that “most of the suspensions are only temporary”.
Many are now agreeing to get jabbed because “they see that the vaccination mandate is a reality”, he said.
The rule applies to all doctors, nurses, office staff and volunteers.
President Emmanuel Macron first gave workers notice of the rule change on 12 July, warning them that they needed to get at least one jab by 15 September or resign from their jobs.
“I am aware of what I am asking of you, and I know that you are ready for this commitment, this is part, in a way, of your sense of duty,” he said at the time.
After the president’s announcement, Doctolib, the website people use to book their jabs, crashed as so many people tried secure appointments.
But with the mandate now in place, and thousands still refusing to get the vaccine, there are fears of a disruption to healthcare services.
In just one hospital in Nice in southern France, for example, almost 450 workers have been suspended – sparking protests outside the building.
And in another southern city, Montélimar, one hospital confirmed that it had already begun cancelling non-urgent operations because of a shortage of vaccinated anaesthetists, AFP news agency reports.
“We have to keep these people on the job until they have been replaced,” Christophe Prudhomme, an emergency doctor and left-wing MP, said.
But Mr Véran told French RTL radio on Thursday that “the continuity of care and the security of care and quality of care were assured yesterday in all hospitals and medico-social facilities”, although a few services, such as MRI scans, were impacted for a few hours.
He added that the suspensions mainly affected support staff, and “few white coats”. There have also been “a few dozen resignations” across the country, he said. -bbc