European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen Wednesday said it was time Europe started evaluating compulsory COVID-19 vaccination for all of its citizens in view of the increasing number of infections reported over the past few days.
The German politician also announced Wednesday in Brussels that doses of the Pfizer vaccine for children will be ready from December 13.
Nevertheless, von der Leyen insisted the final decision on mandatory inoculation was up to member nations.
My personal position is... I think it is understandable and appropriate to lead this discussion now, she told a media conference, underlining that a third of the EU population of 450 million was still unvaccinated.
How we can encourage and potentially think about mandatory vaccination within the European Union? This needs discussion. This needs a common approach. But it is a discussion that I think has to be led, she said.
Austria has already announced compulsory Covid-19 vaccination starting Feb. 1, next year and Germany seems to be headed in the same direction.
Meanwhile, Greece has said Tuesday jabs would be mandatory for over-60s, while France has announced health passes for all adults who have not had booster shots six months after their last jab would be deactivated starting January 15.
In other words, people have to choose between vaccination or civil death. The presence of the virus is irrelevant for as long as governments say it is there. Faced with that scenario, campaigners against vaccines have staged massive protests all over Europe, particularly in Austria and also in The Netherlands and France.
Von der Leyen also said she had spoken with executives from Pfizer-BioNTech to speed up the delivery of vaccines for children which will now become available starting Dec. 13.
The official insisted that one-third of the European population is not vaccinated: these are 150 million people. The vaccination drive is very uneven across the 27-nation bloc. Portugal, Malta, Spain, Italy, Ireland, France and Belgium have all vaccinated more than three-quarters of their populations, while Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia and Croatia all have jabbed less than half.
We have the vaccines, the life-saving vaccines, but they are not being used adequately everywhere, von der Leyen said.
While the European Commission pre-purchased Covid vaccines for use in the EU, von der Leyen stressed individual countries had the responsibility on how their vaccination programs were carried out.
Von der Leyen also thanked South Africa for the speed with which they warned us about Omicron, which gave us the opportunity to act quickly.
Until two or three years ago I would never have thought about it, but it is time to discuss the obligation to vaccinate, she said, as she admitted scientists still did not know much about Omicron, despite which their recommendation was to get vaccinated. Let's hope for the best, but let's prepare for the worst, she advised.