Government would not make Covid vaccinations compulsory, Javid says

The health secretary’s comments come as European countries reintroduce tough Covid restrictions to halt a fourth wave of infection

Holly Bancroft
Sunday 21 November 2021 15:47
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<p>Health Secretary Sajid Javid arrives at BBC Broadcasting House, London, to appear on the BBC1 current affairs programme, The Andrew Marr show, on Sunday.  </p>

Health Secretary Sajid Javid arrives at BBC Broadcasting House, London, to appear on the BBC1 current affairs programme, The Andrew Marr show, on Sunday.

Health secretary Sajid Javid has ruled out mass mandatory coronavirus vaccination, saying that it is not something that the government would ever “look at” bringing in.

His comments came after demonstrators took the streets across Europe to protest against tighter coronavirus restrictions put in place to curb growing infection rates.

Austria has made coronavirus vaccines compulsory and announced a new lockdown. The nationwide lockdown will start on Monday and will initially last for ten days.

In Germany, ministers have admitted that introducing compulsory vaccination could be “unavoidable”.

Germany’s federal tourism commissioner Thomas Bareiß told DPA news agency: “In retrospect, it was wrong not to see that right from the start. The hope at that time is understandable, but it was not realistic.”

The Prime Minister of Bavaria also said that “in the end we will not be able to avoid compulsory vaccination.”

Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show on Sunday, Mr Javid said that the UK was “fortunate” to have less hesitancy around vaccines than other countries.

He said: “It is up to Austria, other countries, to decide what they need to do. We are fortunate that in this country, although we have vaccine hesitancy, it is a lot lower than we are seeing in other places.”

Mr Javid added: “I just think on a practical level, taking a vaccine should be a positive choice. It should be something, if people are a bit reluctant, we should work with them and encourage them.

“In terms of mandatory vaccines for the general population I don’t think that is something we would ever look at.”

The government has made the coronavirus vaccine compulsory for some key workers, such as care home workers.

The deadline for care home workers to be fully vaccinated is 11 November. Frontline NHS staff will also have to have had both vaccine doses by 1 April.

Mr Javid also played down the need for more restrictions to be put in place in the coming weeks.

He told Sky News that England was “firmly” in Plan A, saying: “If we needed to take further measures with Plan B then we would do so, but we’re not at that point.”

He added: “As we all look forward to Christmas, it’s very sad to see cases rising - surging in parts of Europe. We’ve always known that this virus, it loves the winter, it likes the cold, darker days that winter brings and we need to make sure we’re doing everything we can to protect ourselves against that.”

From Monday, people aged above 40 will be eligible to receive a booster jab. 16 and 17-year-olds will also be able to book in for their second jab next week.

Europe is experiencing a fourth wave of coronavirus infection ahead of Christmas and Greece is among other countries that have reintroduced tougher restrictions.

Greece has barred unvaccinated people from all commercial indoor spaces, such as cinemas, museums and gyms.

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