Public/Global Health

EU leader calls for debate on mandatory COVID-19 vaccines

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European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Wednesday said member nations should consider making COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory for citizens, the Associated Press reported 

“It is understandable and appropriate to lead this discussion now – how we can encourage and potentially think about mandatory vaccination within the European Union,” Von der Leyen, who leads the European Union’s executive arm, told reporters. 

Von der Leyen also said that one-third of the European population isn’t vaccinated against the virus, which amounts to 150 million residents. 

As of now, the 27-nation bloc vaccination rate stands at 66 percent with member countries renewing mask and testing requirements for citizens due to the recent surge of virus cases, according to the AP. 

“The lifesaving vaccines are not being used adequately everywhere,” Von der Leyen said. “This is an enormous health cost coming along.”

A number of member-countries in the European Union have imposed their own vaccine mandates.

Beginning on Feb 1., Austria will begin a vaccine mandate for all residents, and starting in mid-January, Greece will fine people ages 60 and older 100 euros per month if they don’t get vaccinated, the AP reported. 

EU health ministers are scheduled to assess the emergence of the new omicron variant on Tuesday. 

South African health officials confirmed at a media briefing last week the discovery of the new variant, formerly called B.1.1529, saying it is “very different” from past mutations. 

Fifty-nine omicron variant cases were confirmed in 11 EU countries on Wednesday, with the Netherlands reporting 16 new cases. The majority of the cases are coming from travel through Africa, according to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control.

Tags European Union Greece Omicron variant Ursula von der Leyen

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