Brussels [Belgium], December 7 (ANI/Sputnik): Belgian medical workers are rallying in Brussels and other cities in Belgium on Tuesday to protest the government's intention to make COVID-19 vaccination a prerequisite to be able to continue working, a Sputnik correspondent reported.
Around 4,000 medical employees marched with posters in the center of the Belgian capital. They were soon joined by firefighters. Brussels health facilities reduced services to the minimum during the demonstration.
"First they applauded us, now they are threatening to dismiss us," demonstrators chanted, recalling how people went out to their balconies every day in the beginning of the pandemic to applaud as a sign of gratitude to doctors.
The Belgian government's preliminary plan is to temporarily suspend medical workers who refuse to get vaccinated against COVID-19 starting January 1 until April 1. During this period, medical workers will be eligible for unemployment benefits, and afterward they will need to decide whether to quit their job and continue receiving the allowance or switch to a different job not linked to the treatment of patients. To be able to continue their regular job, they will have to get vaccinated.
Medical unions held a negotiation with political parties and the Federal Ministry of Health earlier on Tuesday.
One of the union leaders told journalists that if the government sees the vaccination mandate through, it would lead to a shortage of health staff, which, in turn, will result in increased workloads on vaccinated health workers and affect the quality of their services.
Belgium is considered to be among world leaders in terms of vaccination coverage, including immunization rates of health staff. Over 85% of the Belgian population has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. According to the Belgian health authorities, as of Tuesday, the country has confirmed nearly 1.9 million coronavirus cases and over 27,000 related deaths. (ANI/Sputnik)