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The head of the EU’s disease control agency has issued a observe of caution about a move to mandatory Covid vaccines, as she warned that European governments needed to take urgent action faced with a rising wave of infections.
Dr Andrea Ammon, the head of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), said mandatory vaccines could raise uptake, but risked intensifying rejection of vaccines.
[Mandatory vaccination] is not a magic wand. It can be effective, it can raise the vaccination rate, but it can also polarise. And among those that are right now not vaccinated, not everybody is against vaccines, but many people want this to be their own decision and not being imposed on. So it could excursion people already more into rejecting vaccines.
She was speaking after the ECDC changed its guidance booster jabs for all adults, prioritising the over-40s. The new guidance is part of the ECDC’s threefold recommendation to tackle rising caseloads: increase vaccines, offer booster doses to all adults and more non-medical measures, such as wearing masks, hand hygiene, working from home and limiting contacts.
Ammon said Europe was not in a situation where there was a choice between vaccines and other measures.
So far, nearly two-thirds of the population (65.4%) and more than three-quarters of adults (76.5%) in the European Economic Area have been vaccinated.
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