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Luxembourg mulls mandatory vaccine as Germany rejects law

Luxembourg mulls mandatory vaccine as Germany rejects law

by Heledd PRITCHARD 3 min. 08.04.2022 From our online archive
Experts continuing to assess infection rates to determine whether compulsory vaccine is necessary, says Justice Minister
Healthcare workers at a hospital in Luxembourg
Healthcare workers at a hospital in Luxembourg
Photo credit: Chris Karaba

Luxembourg is continuing to assess whether it is necessary to make Covid-19 vaccines mandatory for the over-50s and healthcare workers, Justice Minister Sam Tanson said this week, as German lawmakers rejected a proposal to make the shots compulsory.

A majority of German lawmakers voted down the legislation on Thursday, which would have introduced compulsory jabs for all residents aged over 60, with 378 parliamentarians opposed and 296 in favour. They were free not to toe their party line, with some members of Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s party joining opposition parties to vote against the bill.

The aim of the proposal was to avoid further restrictions and help curb infection rates by obliging the most vulnerable groups to get a jab to prevent them from developing severe symptoms if they become infected. Had it been approved, the law would have come into effect in Germany in October.

Luxembourg is continuing to monitor infection rates and hospitalisation figures to determine whether a plan for a compulsory vaccine is appropriate or necessary, Tanson told public broadcaster 100,7 on Thursday.

In January a group of five medical experts - who had been tasked with giving their scientific opinion on the issue - called for mandatory jabs for people over the age of 50, a group that is statistically more likely to develop severe disease and die of the virus, and for those who work with vulnerable people, such as healthcare staff.  

The government said at the time that it backed a vaccine mandate but said it wanted to leave the specific details of any future law in the hands of deputies to decide, after a heated debate in parliament exposed deep divisions over the issue.  

The number of people testing positive for Covid-19 fell by 15% last week compared with the previous week, figures from the Health Ministry showed on Wednesday, despite people no longer having to wear a mask or show Covid passes to enter most places, such as bars, cafés and restaurants. 

Lawmakers unanimously approved the relaxation of all Covid-19 rules in mid-March – the first time all deputies had fully supported legislation on the matter.

Two of the three people in intensive care last week were unvaccinated while 19 of the 24 people on a hospital ward were fully vaccinated, the weekly figures showed. Older age groups continue to be the most affected, according to the latest data, with 55 the average age of those admitted to hospital, while the average age of the eight people whose deaths were attributed to Covid-19 during the past week was 81.

More than 472,000 people are now fully jabbed in Luxembourg, according to data from the Health Ministry, bringing the country’s vaccination rate to 79%.

If the group of experts conclude that a mandatory vaccine is necessary, lawmakers would have to vote on the proposal by September, Tanson said. The experts are due to submit their findings in the coming weeks. If vaccines do become mandatory, those who fail to comply would face a penalty, the Justice Minister added.

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