Czech Republic abolishes plans to mandate COVID-19 vaccine


On Wednesday, the new Czech government abandoned the previous administration’s plans to require the COVID-19 vaccine for people over the age of 60 and in key professions.

Under the old government, seniors, health workers, firefighters, police officers and medical students had to be vaccinated against COVID-19 from March.

However, Prime Minister Petr Fiara has abandoned the order of his predecessor Andrej Babiš, issued in early December. He told reporters Wednesday that his centre-right government was unaware of the need for compulsory vaccination.

“I agreed that vaccination against COVID-19 is not mandatory,” Fiara said. “This does not change our attitude towards vaccination. It is arguably the best way to fight COVID-19 … but we don’t want to deepen the cracks in society.”

Opponents of the vaccine mission have launched several protests in Prague and elsewhere in the country.

So far, 62.9% of Czechs are considered fully vaccinated, below the European Union average, according to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control. Approximately 3.4 million people have received booster shots nationwide.

Fiara said that about 90 percent of the people who would be on duty have already been vaccinated.

The new government’s decision was made when the Czech Republic was facing a surge in COVID-19 infection, primarily caused by the highly contagious Omicron variant of the new coronavirus.

The seven-day infection rate was 950 per 100,000 inhabitants on Tuesday and 799 the day before.

Despite record numbers, the number of COVID-19 patients in the hospital dropped to 1,635 on Tuesday, with 252 in need of intensive care.

Researchers and health experts expect that the Omicron variant is highly contagious, but less severe and less symptomatic than other strains, such as the Delta variant. increase.

Elsewhere, in Austria, residents will be fined if they ignore the COVID-19 vaccine obligations that they aim to introduce to all residents over the age of 14 in February.

Last month, the Austrian Minister of Health announced that those who ignored the vaccine obligation would be fined up to € 3,600.

And in Greece, everyone over the age of 60 is obliged to vaccinate. Those who refuse to be vaccinated will be fined by the government, said Health Minister Thanos Prebris. The fine starts at € 50 ($ 57) this month and is followed by a fine of € 100 ($ 114) per month.

Mr Prebris said the fines will be collected through the tax office and used to fund state hospitals.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Isabelle van Brugen

follow

Isabel van Brugen is an award-winning journalist and currently a news reporter for The Epoch Times. She holds a Master’s degree in Newspaper Journalism from City University of London.