EU countries mull mandatory COVID-19 vaccination

By Dénes Albert
3 Min Read

Following in the footsteps of Austria, several European countries are considering mandatory COVID-19 vaccination, while European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen also spoke about the possibility.

As previously reported, vaccination against coronavirus will be mandatory in Austria from Feb. 1, 2022. According to government leaks in the press, those who refuse to be vaccinated could be fined up to €7,200. A draft law is now being prepared.

The incoming German governing coalition is making similar plans. As government spokesman Steffen Seibert put it on Tuesday, members of the outgoing and incoming government agreed on Tuesday that the fourth wave of the pandemic had created an extremely dramatic situation in the health system in some areas and that required decisive action.

Among the proposals is to prepare a decision on the general vaccination obligation as soon as possible, in addition to the decision on the vaccination obligation for health and social care workers. In Austria, 66.8 percent of the population and 68.5 percent in Germany received the first two doses of the vaccine.

Countries already rolling out mandatory vaccinations

There are states that have already introduced provisions before the Austrian decision that made it compulsory for an age group or occupation to take the vaccine. France ordered the compulsory vaccination of healthcare workers back in July, at the same time introducing the use of a medical card — a document certifying vaccination.

A “passport” similar to the French health card was also introduced in Italy in the summer, with the difference that it was made compulsory for all workers in September. To renew the card, a booster is also needed here, with the biggest breakthrough in the 20-30 age group.

In Greece, the government recently decided to oblige those over sixty years of age who do not register to be vaccinated by Jan. 16, 2022 to pay a penalty of €100 a month. In the Mediterranean country, the fourth wave of the epidemic is raging and, according to statistics, nine out of ten dead are over 60 years old. In addition, 80 percent of the deceased are not vaccinated at all. 61.6 percent of people are vaccinated.

Meanwhile, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen — with a degree and doctorate in medicine, and who briefly practiced before her political career — said that member states should discuss mandatory vaccination on an EU level.

“Maybe we should think about introducing a compulsory vaccination in the EU. We need to have a dialogue on compulsory vaccination and then develop a common direction with the member states,” von der Leyen said. But that is a suggestion at best, as healthcare remains firmly a national competence.

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