The European Union (EU) should begin a discussion about whether mandatory vaccinations are necessary in the fight against the ongoing Covid-19 outbreak, especially since one-third of the EU population has not yet received the vaccine, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in Brussels.
Recognizing that such a decision was “pure member state competence,” she noted that approximately 150 million EU citizens had not taken the jab.
“I think it is understandable and appropriate to lead this discussion now — how we can encourage and potentially think about mandatory vaccination within the EU,” she added on Wednesday during a news conference.
“We have the vaccines, the life-saving vaccines, but they are not being used adequately everywhere,” she said.
Von der Leyen added that the EU’s main Covid-19 vaccine provider, BioNTech or Pfizer, would have shots available for children in the bloc in two weeks.
According to the Commission President, there is insufficient information on the new Covid-19 variant, Omicron, which the World Health Organization has classified as a high risk.
“We do not know all about this variant but know enough to be concerned,” she added.
“We know from our experience with the Delta variant that it is a race against time. Till we know more, in two to three weeks, we need to take action. Our best scientists are working day and night. What science tells us already is that full vaccination and boosters give protection against the virus.”