Mandatory Covid vaccines ‘absolute last resort’: WHO

Madrid Desk, Dec 7 (EFE).- The World Health Organization said Tuesday that mandatory vaccinations should be only used as a last resort to curb rising coronavirus infection rates.

“Mandatory vaccination is an absolute last resort and only applicable when all viable options for improving vaccination rates have been exhausted,” WHO-Europe Director Hans Kluge told a press conference.

Austria said last month that it would make Covid vaccines mandatory from February, with neighbors Germany also debating following suit, while Greece has started fining people over the age of 60 who refuse to get vaccinated.

The Czech government, which imposed a state of emergency 10 days ago, said Tuesday that civil servants who are most at risk of infection and people over 60 will have to get vaccinated by the end of February, insisting that mandatory jabs are “for the common good.”

“It is the way to avoid new crisis situations in our hospitals,” acting Health Minister Adam Vojtech said of the measure that will affect health workers, social workers, firefighters, police officers and soldiers, among others.

Last week the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said member states should debate compulsory vaccination, given that only 66.2% of the EU’s population is fully vaccinated.

Kluge called for “stabilizing” the pandemic crisis by ramping up vaccination, including the booster dose, and implementing measures such as the use of masks and indoor ventilation, increasing the number of tests and adopting rigorous protocols for severe cases of coronavirus.

To avoid further interruptions to children’s schooling, Kluge said the use of masks, ventilation and regular testing should be “standard” in all primary schools and the vaccination of children should be “discussed and considered” at the national level.

WHO-Europe said that since its last press briefing a month ago, 120,000 people have died from coronavirus, while the region, made up of 53 countries in Europe and Central Asia, has reported a total of 10 million cases: by the end of this week, one in ten people in the region will have been infected with the virus. EFE


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