RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The Czech Republic, a country of the European Union (EU), abandoned a mandatory vaccination scheme for the over-60s and workers in specific sectors, with a new prime minister scrapping the plan after a series of protests over the measure.
While a vaccination rule put in place by the previous government was to take effect in March, former prime minister Andrej Babis has since been replaced by a new ruling coalition led by the new center-right prime minister, Petr Fiala, who now says the policy will not be implemented after all.
“We have agreed that vaccination against covid-19 will not be mandatory,” Fiala said Wednesday.
The prior administration ordered the mandate before it was replaced in December, amid a spike in cases linked to the Omicron variant.
However, according to the official statistics, deaths and hospitalizations only saw a brief spike before falling again. The rule would have applied to elderly residents and health care workers, police, firefighters, and medical students.
Earlier this month, thousands gathered in the Czech capital to protest the mandatory vaccination measure, as did similar demonstrations elsewhere in Europe. Just under 63% of Czechs are considered fully vaccinated, below the European Union average of 69.4%.