European Union’s Health Ministers rule out mandatory vaccines
During a meeting in Brussels on Tuesday, December 7, the majority of the European Union’s Health Ministers took a stand against the idea of adopting legal measures to force mandatory vaccines on European citizens.
This strategy has also been discouraged by the World Health Organization (WHO), which believes that such a move should only be considered as an “absolute last resort”.
Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, although it is outside her powers, had last week recommended opening a debate about mandatory vaccination as a way to end the huge number of around about 150 million people still unvaccinated in the EU.
Europe has a number of states with high vaccination levels, including Spain, Ireland, and Portugal, while countries like Bulgaria have only 25 per cent vaccinated, and Romania, 38 per cent.
The Austrian representative was allegedly the only one who mentioned the idea of making vaccination mandatory. He explained the measures that his government plans to take, and, in statements to the press, several ministers spoke out against his idea.
Spain does not contemplate it and, like other European countries, has opted to expand the use of the covid passport to give incentives to vaccination. Apart from Austria, to date, only Greece plans to implement this measure, albeit partially, for those over 60 years of age. Germany’s next chancellor, Olaf Scholz, has said he supports him, but has not announced any concrete plans.
Stella Kyriakides, the European Commissioner for Health, pointed out, “From the beginning, we have made it clear that the vaccination strategy, and the decisions on whether it is voluntary or compulsory, are the responsibility of the member states”.
She admitted that the why citizens do not get vaccinated vary between different countries and regions, and “there is no unambiguous answer”.
During their meeting, the European Ministers of Health debated the future of the Covid passport. This is the document promoted last summer by the EU to regain mobility within the continent. Its future is seemigly up in the air.
Several countries announced that they will soon require the booster dose for entry, and some governments yesterday defended that it ceases to be valid after a certain time after the second dose.
Brussels proposed giving a nine month period in which to receive the booster, but yesterday, some countries defended this, asking instead for six months, while others said 12 months, as reported by lavanguardia.com.