Vaccine mandates 'absolute last resort', WHO Europe head says

·1-min read
FILE PHOTO: Hans Kluge, World Health Organization regional director for Europe, attends a meeting with Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin in Moscow

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - Mandatory vaccinations against the coronavirus are an "absolute last resort", the World Health Organization's top Europe official said on Tuesday.

More and more countries in Europe, including Germany, are debating whether to make COVID-19 vaccines mandatory after Austria announced in November it would make inoculations compulsory as of Feb. 1 next year, prompting large protests.

"Mandates around vaccination are an absolute last resort and only applicable when all feasible options to improve vaccination uptake have been exhausted," WHO Europe director Hans Kluge told reporters.

"The effectiveness of mandates is very context specific," Kluge said, adding that public confidence and trust in authorities needed to be considered.

"What is acceptable in one society and community may not be effective and acceptable in another."

Indonesia, Micronesia and Turkmenistan have also made vaccinations against the coronavirus mandatory for all adults.

(Reporting by Nikolaj Skydsgaard and Stine Jacobsen; Editing by Alex Richardson and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)