World Leaders Struggle to Raise Vaccination Rates as COVID-19 Surges

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With winter in the Northern Hemisphere and COVID-19 cases rising across Europe and North America, political leaders from Washington to Brussels are struggling to persuade a pandemic-stricken public to get vaccinated against the disease, Which has killed more than 5 million people. and sickened millions of people around the world.

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In the United States, a high-profile push by President Joe Biden to force all businesses with more than 100 employees to vaccinate workers or submit them for routine testing has been mired in court challenges. Across Europe this week, protests, some violent, erupted as various governments announced they would implement tougher measures to combat the disease, including those who are unable to take an active part in public life. Limit the ability of people to be vaccinated.

Across the world, countries have responded to the continued presence of COVID-19, now nearly two years after it was first detected, with a variety of measures, ranging from blanket vaccine mandates for all eligible individuals to those at particular risk. to more targeted needs, such as health care workers.


Plenty of Vaccines, Variable Uptake

According to Johns Hopkins University’s Coronavirus Resource Center, about 7.5 billion vaccine doses have been given since the shots became available. Those doses are not evenly spread around the world. Most of the vaccines have been purchased by wealthy countries such as the United States and Europe.

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It appears that Europe and North America will be well protected from winter outbreaks of the virus, but even in countries where vaccines are plentiful, the percentage of the population that has chosen to be vaccinated against COVID-19 is increasing rapidly. varies.

According to data collected by Johns Hopkins University, only 59.7% of the American public has been fully vaccinated, compared to 76.9% in Canada and 50.4% in Mexico. In Europe, vaccine uptake varies widely, from 86.9% in Portugal to only 12.6% in Armenia.

In Central Europe, cases are rising in Germany and Denmark, where vaccination rates are 68.1% and 76.4%, respectively. Both countries are well above the global average in the percentage of people who are vaccinated, indicating that the disease can still spread rapidly, even where vaccination rates are relatively high.

This has led leaders around the world to search for ways to force more people to get vaccinated, with various successes.

different methods of vaccination

A handful of countries – Indonesia, Micronesia and Turkmenistan – have implemented blanket requirements that all adults receive vaccinations.

This week, Austria became the first European country to announce that vaccinations would be mandatory for all adults, with the requirement to be vaccinated by February. The announcement came as the government announced it would impose a fourth national lockdown to reduce the spread of the virus, which has sparked protests across the country.

Many other countries have taken a less comprehensive approach, reducing vaccination status to the ability to work and participate in public activities, including going to restaurants, concerts and other events.

With other European countries announcing strict limits on who are able to do non-vaccination, as well as broad restrictions on public life in general, protests began this week in the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and Croatia, among other countries. Have become.

Several European countries have adopted a “vaccine passport” system that limits access to public places to people who can show proof of vaccination or have recently recovered from COVID-19.

Government employees face requirements

One of the most common measures being taken around the world is requiring government employees to be vaccinated to remain in their jobs. In addition to the US, countries that require vaccination for public sector workers include Canada, Costa Rica, Denmark, Fiji, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Turkey and Ukraine.

Among them, many have added a mandate for private sector workers as a whole; Others have narrowed the requirement to private sector workers who deal with customers.

Some countries, among them Denmark, France, Lebanon, Morocco and the Netherlands, have limited rights for health care workers, but have implemented restrictions on non-vaccination activities.

US vaccine resistance

In the United States, President Biden’s effort to require private businesses with more than 100 employees to be vaccinated or tested is in limbo. The proposal, which will take effect in January, will affect about 84 million American workers on top of existing mandates on health care workers, federal employees and contractors, and the US military.

However, the push by the Democratic president has been met with pushback from Republican politicians across the country. Several Republican state attorneys general have filed lawsuits to block the mandate from being implemented. A federal judge stayed the mandate, preventing it from being implemented.

The cases have been consolidated before the Sixth US Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati, where the Biden administration is requesting that the stay on the mandate be lifted.

Supreme Court-bound

Brian Dean Abramson, assistant professor of vaccine law at Florida International University and author of the Bloomberglaw/American Health Law Association treatise Vaccines, Vaccination and Immunization Lawstold the Granthshala that the future of the mandate is unclear.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, according to Abramson, the bureau within the Department of Labor that created the mandate, left itself open to a number of challenges. For example, it is claiming that the new mandate is necessary to protect workers from a dangerous disease, but at the same time claiming that health care workers could set a standard that is significantly less stringent as early as this year. Is.

Regardless of his fate in the 6th Circuit, Abramson said, the case is likely headed for the nation’s highest court.

“I think it’s quite inevitable, that it will get to the US Supreme Court quickly,” he said. “And I think we can see that the Supreme Court is getting to that, making some sort of quick argument, and issuing a decision before the end of the year.”

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