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WHO: Vaccine mandates should be 'last resort'

December 7, 2021

The advice from the World Health Organization comes as Germany and other countries discuss a vaccine mandate. Experts also said that vaccines for children might help stop the spread of coronavirus.

Hans Kluge wearing a facemask
WHO official Hans Kluge says vaccine mandates are an 'absolute last resort'Image: Alexander Demianchuk/TASS/picture alliance/dpa

Mandatory vaccinations against the coronavirus are an "absolute last resort," the World Health Organization's top Europe official said on Tuesday.

"Mandates around vaccination are an absolute last resort and only applicable when all feasible options to improve vaccination uptake have been exhausted," WHO Director for Europe Hans Kluge said.

Kluge said that although mandates have increased vaccine uptake in some cases, "public confidence and public trust" must also be considered.

"The effectiveness of mandates is very context-specific," he added. "What is acceptable in one society and community may not be effective and acceptable in another."

Where are vaccines mandatory?

Austria announced in November that it would impose a vaccine mandate starting in February 2022. This, along with a new lockdown, sparked protests attended by thousands.

Protestors brandishing Austrian flags demonstrate against coronavirus measures in Vienna
Austria's vaccine mandate sparked protestsImage: Askin Kiyagan/AA/picture alliance

A number of other European countries including Germany have been debating whether to implement a vaccine mandate. In Greece, vaccines are mandatory for people over 60.

Indonesia, the Federated States of Micronesia, and Turkmenistan have made vaccinations against the coronavirus mandatory for all adults.

Debate on vaccinating children

Kluge also noted that the number of coronavirus cases had increased in all age groups, and the highest rates are currently observed in the 5-14 age group. He further pointed out that children risk passing the infection to parents and grandparents in the home.

EU backs COVID shot for 5-to-11-year-olds

In light of these statistics, Kluge added that "vaccinating children should be discussed and considered nationally."

The EU's drug regulator, the European Medicines Agency, backed giving children the BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine in late November.

sdi/rc (AFP, Reuters)