Prague, Czech Republic – A few days after Austria became the first country in Europe to back mandatory vaccination against Covid-19, the debate has reached neighbouring Czech Republic.
Petition in favour of mandatory vaccination launched in Czech Republic
Earlier this week, a Czech scientist launched a petition calling for anti-Covid vaccines to be made mandatory for everyone above the age of 12, except for those who cannot be inoculated for health reasons.
Launched by Peter Sebo, the head of a laboratory at the Institute of Microbiology at the Czech Academy of Sciences, the petition accuses a “minority group of blocking the return to normal life for all of us” and of being responsible for the saturation of hospitals and other health services, thus keeping other critically ill non-Covid patients from receiving the necessary care.
Citing a “perverse understanding of freedom and society” in anti-vaccination circles, the petition criticizes the Czech government for its lack of “courage” in taking what it sees as the only appropriate measure to return to normal life.
The petition was signed by about 4,000 people at the time of publication.
Approximately 59% of the Czech population is fully vaccinated, with the pace of inoculation seemingly picking up since last week’s announcement of tighter restrictions.
Hard-hit Central Europe discusses lockdowns and new Covid measures
Mandatory vaccination is, unsurprisingly, as controversial a topic as it can get in the Czech Republic and essentially any country where it’s currently being debated.
Supporters of the mandate believe it’s the only way – two years in the pandemic and nearly one year after the start of the vaccine rollout in Europe – to convince those who still refuse to be inoculated, reach collective immunity, and put life back on track.
Warning of government overreach, opponents insist it remains their fundamental right to accept or refuse a vaccine, citing the inconsistency of experts’ opinion in determining the level of vaccine coverage required to achieve herd immunity and the uncertainty surrounding the duration of the vaccine’s immune protection, among other concerns.
With the number of daily cases reaching new records, the Czech Republic is one of the worst-hit countries in Europe.
On Monday, a partial lockdown came into effect for the unvaccinated, barred from entering bars, restaurants, sports arenas, cultural venues, and many services. With cases soaring and hospitals close to being overwhelmed, the Czech government is, like its Slovak neighbour, also discussing the possibility of a full lockdown of at least several weeks.
Outgoing Prime Minister Andrej Babis on Tuesday said the government was considering introducing mandatory vaccination for Czechs over the age of 60 and people working in high-risk professions.