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23 Jul, 2021 09:21

Orban announces mandatory coronavirus vaccine for Hungary’s healthcare workers and jabs for schoolkids

Orban announces mandatory coronavirus vaccine for Hungary’s healthcare workers and jabs for schoolkids

Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban has announced that coronavirus vaccinations will become mandatory for healthcare workers, and children are to be vaccinated before returning to school, in a bid to boost inoculation rates.

During a radio interview with ‘Good Morning, Hungary!’ on Friday, Orban unveiled his plans to boost immunization rates in the country, including mandatory vaccines for healthcare workers.

“Already there are certain vaccines that are mandatory for people working in the healthcare sector ... we have now extended this to coronavirus,” Orban said.

Despite initial reservations, Orban said he was convinced it was the best move to make, given a looming fourth wave of coronavirus infections in Europe.

In another move to bolster immunization rates, Orban proposed that school children over 12 are to be vaccinated before the start of the school year.

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Hungary’s move follows a similar path taken by France and Greece, with both countries declaring mandatory vaccinations for its healthcare workers on July 12, which sparked domestic protests that drew tens of thousands of people. France announced that if healthcare workers are not vaccinated by September 15, they run the risk of no longer being able to work or of having their salary withheld. In Greece, nursing-home staff were ordered to get vaccinated immediately, while healthcare workers were given a deadline of September 1.

Hungary also became the first country in Europe to offer a third booster shot to its citizens when the jab mandates were announced last week. Citizens will be able to receive a third jab from August 1 onwards.

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Around 55% of Hungary’s population are fully vaccinated, with 57% having received at least one dose. Hungary can partially attribute its decent vaccination coverage to its decision to approve Russia’s Sputnik V and China’s Sinopharm early in 2021, the country being the first member state of the EU bloc to approve the jabs. Moderna, Pfizer/BioNTech, Johnson&Johnson’s Janssen and AstraZeneca are also among Hungary’s eight approved vaccines.

Since the outbreak of the pandemic, Hungary has recorded almost 810,000 infections and just over 30,000 deaths.

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