The World Forum - May17th, 2024

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Spain the first country in Europe to register citizens who refuse a COVID-19 vaccine


Spain will share its register of unvaccinated citizens with other European governments, but it won’t be made public and the names will be “treated with the utmost respect for data protection,” Health Minister Salvador Illa said.

Spain began distributing the vaccine on Sunday and taking it remains voluntary. On Monday, it became the fourth European country to record more than 50,000 coronavirus deaths.

The number of Spaniards who have said they won’t take the COVID-19 vaccine has fallen to 28% in December from 47% in November.

“The way to defeat the virus is to vaccinate all of us, or the more the better,” Illa said in an interview with La Sexta television.

France, in contrast, will have a registry with the identity of people vaccinated and their health conditions.

The French government’s campaign has gotten off to a slow start as officials look to build trust in the system. Polls show high levels of skepticism with less than half of the country’s population intending to get the shot.

“I’ve said it before and I’m repeating it: the vaccine won’t be compulsory,” French President Emmanuel Macron said on Twitter. “The cost of the vaccine is completely covered. There are no charges. Let’s be proud of our health system.”

In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government is considering legislation to ensure unvaccinated people are treated fairly as the economy begins to open up. More than 21,000 people in the country have already received the shot developed by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE.

After inoculations in Europe started with fanfare last weekend, authorities are now grappling with ways to ensure widespread uptake without sowing further discontent among the pandemic-weary public.

In Italy, politicians are worried about public resistance and are debating whether to make inoculations compulsory for workers such as civil servants and medical personnel. Surveys have shown that significant parts of the population are wary of getting the shot.

Like most of Europe, Italy’s official line is that getting the vaccine is a personal choice. But if voluntary uptake remains low, “we will have to adopt some countermeasures,” Deputy Health Minister Pierpaolo Sileri said in an interview with the La Stampa newspaper on Tuesday.