Covid vaccines to be mandatory in New Caledonia by end of year

·2-min read

New Caledonia has voted to make Covid-19 vaccination mandatory for all adults, including anyone visiting the French Pacific territory.

The unanimous decision was reached Friday in Congress, with 31 December set as the inoculation deadline.

Government officials were able to put their political differences aside, with independence campaigners voting in line with loyalists who want the territory to remain French.

Those found flouting the rules will reportedly face sanctions, although exceptions will be made for people who are immunocompromised or allergic to vaccines.

So far just 32 percent of New Caledonians are vaccinated.

Delta fears

While no Covid deaths have been recorded in New Caledonia, there are fears the highly contagious delta variant could make it through strict quarantine controls.

Infection rates have been soaring in French Polynesia, some 4,700 kilometres further east, where vaccination rates are also low.

New Caledonia’s borders have been closed since March last year, with only urgent travel permitted – including the rotation of French personnel.

People divided

Despite the political consensus, France Info in New Caledonia reported that the public was divided on the issue, much like in mainland France.

"I find it totally inadmissible to force people to take a product that we do not want, said one man on a street in downtown Noumea.

Meanwhile a shop vendor said she was neither for nor against the vaccine, adding: "I respect people's choice, but personally, I don't want the vaccine. I feel like I'd be a guinea pig."

Others said getting vaccinated was a measure needed to put the interests of the community ahead of the interests of the individual.

"We have to do it for the good of society," said one man.

Following Friday’s vote, New Caledonia becomes the world’s fourth country to introduce mandatory vaccination.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting