Away from their jobs for 20 months, without income, all had to reorient themselves, at least temporarily, and in the end few of them returned to their former functions.

In a dedicated room of her house, she now offers beauty and well-being treatments. Always wearing a white coat...

"It's not exactly the same, it has pimples, it's a little prettier. It looks a little less like pajamas, but it's still white," she smiles, massaging a customer's face.

Today, graduated in maderotherapy (massage technique with wooden instruments), eyelash care, lymphatic drainage and baby massage, she "takes care of people" as she sees fit.


The thirty-year-old, suspended in September 2021, ensures "not to be against the vaccine" but she did not want to be vaccinated at this time.

"With my spouse, we have had a baby project for a few years but we can't do it. We were going to start a battery of tests at the end of 2021 and my gynecologist advised me against the vaccine at that time, "says the young woman, still not vaccinated.

She tried to convince her superiors, but "there was no exception, I was devastated. We really wanted to wait for this project to work and then get vaccinated," says the young woman with tears in her eye, still hoping to procreate.

Infected with the virus in March 2022, she did not wish to return despite her recovery certificate. Very quickly, Elodie Schlernitzauer, a nursing assistant for 12 years, understood that she would not return to work at the hospital.

"Financially I have the same salary as before, with less gas costs and the possibility of doing my planning. I'm lucky, it works very well and I'm very proud of it," says the young woman.

Stéphane Escafit, 46, hesitated until the last moment to resume his position as stretcher-bearer. Reconverted to the markets of Strasbourg, where he sells sausages and charcuterie from the South-West, he was one of the few unvaccinated on his team.

A stretcher bearer in a corridor of the emergency room of the Bichat hospital in Paris, July 27, 2017 © FRANCOIS GUILLOT / AFP/Archives

"It's a vaccine that was in the experimental phase, which came very quickly, I did not have confidence," justifies this father of two.

His suspension left him with a bitter taste: "What annoyed me was that when everyone was confined, we were supposedly heroes and overnight we found ourselves like plagues."

"Pinch in the heart"

In mid-May, he put his gown back on and returned to the hospital... where he finally asked the same day for his lay-off in order to continue in his new activity on the markets, even if the salary is a little less attractive. Stéphane Escafit fears being suspended again in the event of a return of Covid-19.

"The vaccination obligation has not been repealed, so if I resume my activity, there is no evidence that I will not find myself suspended again in six or seven months," he fears. The government retains the possibility of suspending again, by a new decree, the unvaccinated if the pandemic starts again.

It is therefore with a "little pinch in the heart" that he leaves this profession, exercised for 17 years, to devote himself fully to his new activity as a trader: "Back on the markets Saturday morning, I have plenty of patients ... uh, lots of customers waiting for me."

Eric Mercier, 52, a nurse in a private institution in the Pays de la Loire, is one of the few to have returned to work. Since the vaccination obligation imposed on caregivers at the end of 2021, he has had to combine jobs to make ends meet. He worked in the food industry, construction, or was a forklift driver, "with the fear of bailiffs and not having a job for the next day".

The fifty-year-old ensures that there were no sideways glances from his colleagues for his return, even if "there will certainly be". "But I come back with my head held high, I always wanted to heal, I was robbed of my dream job."

© 2023 AFP