Court rules not to pause obligatory Covid jabs for French firefighters

672 firefighters had applied to the European Court of Human Rights, invoking their ‘right to life’ and ‘respect for private and family life’ 

25 August 2021

The European Court of Human Rights has dismissed an application made by 672 French firefighters to suspend obligatory vaccination. Pic: Yavdat / Shutterstock

By Emma Morgan

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has dismissed an application made by 672 French firefighters to temporarily suspend a government ruling requiring them to be vaccinated against Covid-19. 

All firefighters, along with gendarmes, healthcare workers and carers, must be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 by September 15 or October 15 if they have already received one dose.

The 672 firefighters oppose this law – which came in on August 5 – under Articles 2 and 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights regarding the “right to life” and the “right to respect for private and family life.”

They had asked the court to “suspend the obligation to be vaccinated” and any “related measures that could be invoked to prohibit them from doing their job” or from receiving their wage. 

In a ruling announced today (August 25), the ECHR deemed this request to be “outside of the scope of Article 39” of its rules, which states that the court may introduce “interim measures” if failing to do so would constitute “a real risk of irreparable damage” to the parties concerned.

Whilst it will not suspend the vaccination obligation, the court has said that its decision does necessarily impact any “later decisions on the substance or merits of the case in question.” 

This is the first European ruling on obligatory Covid-19 vaccination according to lawyer Nicolas Hervieu, a specialist at the ECHR.

Firefighter union Sud SDIS said, in a press release announcing its intention to take the matter to court, that it was not against the vaccine but against compulsory vaccination, which had been “very badly received, even among firefighters who have already been vaccinated.” 

Mandatory Covid-19 vaccination of some professions is also being imposed in countries including Australia, Fiji, Greece, Indonesia, Italy, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Micronesia, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka and Turkmenistan. 

In England, all care home workers will have to be fully vaccinated to be able to work from October. 

In Canada, all federal public servants must soon be vaccinated,

Elsewhere in North America, New York is the first major US city to require proof of vaccination for the staff of restaurants, gyms and other indoor businesses from September 13.

Related stories 

Millions of workers will need French health pass from August 30

French healthcare union calls for strike against mandatory vaccination

‘Make Covid-19 vaccine mandatory for all’: French hospital union boss

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