From 1 February 2022, being vaccinated against the coronavirus will be mandatory in Austria. Other European countries are introducing similar measures; Greece has imposed a vaccine mandate for people aged 60 and up; Italy has announced mandatory vaccination for over-50s. The new German chancellor, Olaf Scholz, has voiced his support for mandatory vaccination (though many hurdles remain).
The President of the EU Commission supports a debate on mandatory vaccines. In December 2022, Ursula Von Der Leyen said European Union Member States should start discussing with citizens the possibility of making jabs mandatory, as too few people are voluntarily being vaccinated. The World Health Organization (WHO) says that “most of those who require hospital treatment [are] unvaccinated people”, meaning pressure on healthcare systems may not ease until the vast majority of the population have been vaccinated.
Some EU governments are unconvinced. They prefer to “nudge” citizens to get the jab by making life difficult for the unvaccinated. The French government, for example, thinks vaccine passes (required, for example, to enter shops or restaurants) will be much more effective than a mandatory order (President Emmanuel Macron has said his strategy is to “piss off” the unvaccinated). However, critics of the French approach argue that people are effectively being “nudged” out of society.
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