About 3,000 health workers in hospitals, care homes, and health centers across France have been suspended without pay after refusing to be vaccinated against COVID-19, the French government said on Thursday, Sept. 16.

The suspensions came after the government reached its deadline, requiring its front-line health and social care workers to get at least one vaccine shot by Wednesday.

Earlier, in mid-July, President Emmanuel Macron imposed the requirement of a health pass for those who want to go anywhere from restaurants to gyms and museums and made the jab mandatory for health workers, according to Reuters.

The decision triggered thousands of protesters to take to the streets in Paris to oppose the mandatory vaccinations and vaccine passports.

With the vaccine mandate taking effect on Wednesday, there were still 3,000 health workers who refused to comply with mandatory COVID-19 vaccination among 2.7 million workers in hospitals and care homes in the country.

In one hospital in Nice, the southern city of France, nearly 450 health workers out of 7,500 have reportedly been suspended.

Despite the suspensions, the French government shrugged off the impact. Health Minister Olivier Veran told French RTL radio that “it hasn’t been chaos, far from it.”

Veran added that while some workers have resigned, “most of the suspensions are only temporary… many have decided to get vaccinated as they see that the vaccination mandate is a reality.”

But unions have warned of likely impacts from the suspensions. Reuters cited Emmanuel Chignon, a care home manager in Bordeaux, saying that they found it hard to hire staff in the sector, and just a few absentees in a team is enough to trigger a crisis.

“If we can’t replace the carers who leave, the work will fall on the others, and I fear an unvirtuous circle, with tiredness, exhaustion and an increase in absenteeism,” he said.

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