Slovak PM Heger pushes for mandatory vaccination amid collapsing healthcare

“For me, mandatory vaccination for people over 65 or 60 would be ideal. It depends on the experts..." said Prime Minister Eduard Heger. [EPA-EFE / : OLIVIER HOSLET]

“For me, mandatory vaccination for people over 65 or 60 would be ideal. It depends on the experts. I think that even 50+ would make sense, but let us wait what the experts say,” said Prime Minister Eduard Heger, with the country facing the worst rate of new COVID-19 cases per 1,000 people and a collapsing healthcare system. Heger also said he was discussing such an option with constitutional lawyers.

Heger said a lockdown could be imposed if the current measures agreed on by the ruling coalition last week do not help.

Hospitals are struggling with staff shortages and no free beds equipped with ventilators, meaning doctors have to decide whom to save. On top of that 70% of new positive patients being hospitalised are unvaccinated.

The prime minister stated that he is negotiating with the coalition about the issue. However, he said such a move needs political courage, and the agreement will be difficult to reach. Three parties from the four-party coalition are against mandatory vaccination. Former prime minister Robert Fico and his Smer-Social Democracy already said they would oppose mandatory vaccination in the constitutional court.

“I am convinced today that there is no other way than vaccines if we do not want to have repeated waves and lockdowns. This devours the economy, people’s health and people’s lives. If we don’t want to experience this agony for years, we clearly need to be protected by the vaccine,” says Heger. In Slovakia, about 45% of the population is currently fully vaccinated.

(Michal Hudec | EURACTIV.sk)

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