WHO wades into vaccine mandates dispute, saying they should be an ‘absolute last resort’

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  • The vaccine mandate remains a divisive topic of debate.
  • Many parts of the world are battling not only the delta variant but are raising concerns over the spread of Omicron, a mutation of the virus whose risk profile is largely unknown.
  • WHO Europe director Dr Hans Kluge said on Tuesday that compulsory vaccination should be an “absolute last resort”.

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LONDON — The COVID-19 vaccine mandate remains a divisive topic of debate, and the topic remains as prominent as ever, while the world not only grapples with the delta variant, but worries over the spread of Omicron, a strain of the virus. The mutation whose risk profile is there remains largely unknown.

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As some countries struggle to encourage the voluntary take-up of vaccines – which are proven to reduce the risk of serious infection, hospitalization and death from the virus – some governments are considering, or Have already said that they will start compulsory vaccination.

Experts say there are many ethical questions to consider when ordering a vaccine, but some countries have brushed off concerns in favor of an overall benefit from vaccination.

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Dr. Hans Kluge, the WHO’s director of Europe, echoed heated debate on Tuesday, warning that compulsory vaccination should be a last resort.

“The mandate regarding vaccination is an absolute last resort, and only applies when all other possible options for improving vaccination have been exhausted,” Kluge said. “If one hasn’t reached communities before” they shouldn’t, he said in a press briefing.

“The mandate has been shown to be effective in some environments,” Kluge said, but added, “the effectiveness of a vaccine mandate is very context-specific. The impact of mandating vaccines is building public trust and public confidence as well. Vaccination may be intensified, should be considered.”

He cautioned that what is acceptable in one society or community may not be in another.

“Ultimately, mandates should not contribute to widening social inequalities in access to health and social services. Any measure that may restrict a person’s rights or movement, such as a lockdown or mandate, needs to ensure That mental health and wellbeing are looked after for,” he said.

The only way to stop the virus?

The idea of ​​compulsory vaccination has long been controversial in Europe, and levels of vaccine skepticism vary wildly from country to country. But the current COVID scenario has increasingly fueled the debate, and some officials believe that making vaccines mandatory is the only way to contain the virus.

COVID vaccines greatly reduce the risk of serious infection, hospitalization, and death from the virus, but we also know that vaccine immunity declines after about six months and they help reduce transmission by 100%. % does not take effect.

European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said last week that the time had come for the EU to “think about compulsory vaccination”, with individual states implementing vaccine mandates. The comments were made as vaccination rates remain sluggish in some member states, and many countries are dealing with a winter surge of COVID cases.

Some EU member states have already decided to implement vaccines. Austria has said it will introduce mandatory shots next year, while Greece has said it will fine anyone over the age of 60 or 100 euros ($114) if they do not get vaccinated. People over 60 should have received their first dose of coronavirus by January 16 to avoid fines.

Germany’s outgoing government had also proposed the possibility of compulsory vaccines – although the upcoming new coalition said on Tuesday that compulsory vaccinations would be discussed, but nothing had been decided.

Indonesia Kovid vaccination made mandatory Earlier this year Turkmenistan, Saudi Arabia (introducing mandatory shots for anyone wishing to enter the workplace) and the small island states of Micronesia all introduced similar measures.

Meanwhile, other countries or states have made (or are making) COVID vaccines mandatory for certain segments of the workforce, such as public sector workers and especially health care workers. In the US, several companies have said that their employees should also be vaccinated against COVID, often prompting protests from employees.

Many people who do not want to be vaccinated against COVID, and strongly oppose compulsory vaccination, say that their freedom to travel, socialize and work has been limited as the number of public places, leisure places and jobs which can only be accessed by the government. Vaccination increases.

So-called “Covid passes,” or passports, restrict access in public places to people who have been vaccinated, recently recovered, or have negative COVID tests. They are increasingly being relied upon to keep leisure activities and businesses open, although critics say they are isolating societies down vaccination lines.

Europe was rocked by protests in November as thousands demonstrated against new restrictions and the implementation of COVID passes in Brussels, Vienna, Rome and Amsterdam following a surge in COVID infections.

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