Luxembourgh Times

Must have corona jab if 50 or older, experts say

Government will now make a decision based on the recommendation

Expert panel presenting its advice on vaccine mandate on Tuesday

Expert panel presenting its advice on vaccine mandate on Tuesday © Photo credit: Guy Jallay/Luxemburger Wort

People of 50 years and older must make sure they get vaccinated against the deadly coronavirus, a group of medical experts said on Tuesday, leaving it for the government to decide on the hotly debated issue.

Mandatory vaccination would affect 30,000 people of 50 years and older who have not had any of the jabs - or 13.5% of that age group - a panel of Luxembourg's top virologists and epidemiologists said. All deaths from the recent Omicron virus variant are in this age group, the panel said.

At the same time, the experts scrapped an earlier recommendation to force staff working in care homes and hospitals to get vaccinated.

Just over half of all care home staff is vaccinated, figures from the CNS national health insurance agency show. But the current vaccines do not sufficiently prevent infections to warrant a mandate, the panel said.

Instead, the experts urged the government to force healthcare workers to disclose their vaccination status and to make it easier to put public health measures - such as having to wear face masks - in place without the cumbersome legislative process in place throughout the pandemic.

Prime Minister Xavier Bettel is set to tell lawmakers what his government has decided based on the recommendations on Friday, his office said on Monday.

The panel reviewed its opinion after the more contagious, but less deadly Omicron variant became the dominant strain in Luxembourg. The impact of a vaccine mandate will depend on how the virus evolves and what new vaccines are available when an expected autumn wave of the virus hits.

A vaccine mandate could cut intensive care treatments almost completely if the Delta variant - dominant when the experts released their first opinion in January - were still around. But now that Omicron is the dominant strain, it would only reduce intensive care treatments by 9%.

Luxembourg has registered 1,094 deaths with Covid-19.