The Belgian authorities should open an honest debate about making the coronavirus vaccines mandatory for everyone, instead of excluding non-vaccinated residents, says Vice Prime Minister for the Green party, Petra De Sutter.
Telling people that they do not have to be vaccinated but excluding them if they are not – as Austria is doing now – is "incoherent," De Sutter told VRT on Monday.
"If we really cannot get rid of the virus and cannot get the numbers down during this fourth wave or in the longer term, we have to be honest and open the debate on mandatory vaccination," she said.
The Minister warned that Belgium should not follow Austria's example where all those over 12 years old and not vaccinated have been subjected to a strict lockdown since this weekend.
"That really seems a bridge too far for us," said De Sutter. "Just saying we are going to exclude non-vaccinated people, or doing it in a roundabout way, that is not the way to do it."
To avoid such a situation, she would rather have an open parliamentary debate about mandatory vaccination and see if there is political support for it.
"To us, making a distinction between vaccinated and unvaccinated people for certain activities in a society is absolutely not a good thing," De Sutter added.
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In the meantime, Federal Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke also changed his mind about mandatory vaccination, he stated on VTM News on Sunday evening.
The Minister had repeatedly stated that making the jab mandatory was only a theoretical discussion since it would be impossible to enforce for the general population; he has now stated that it would be a good idea.
"For me, that debate can start. I am in favour," Vandenbroucke said but added that it will be difficult to put into practice.
Earlier on the same day on RTL-TVI, Walloon Health Minister Christie Morreale also stated that compulsory vaccination should be possible. "If medical care in the hospitals has to be postponed again, I think we should go a step further."
Like Vandenbroucke, she pointed out that the Belgian State now spends about €25 million per week on testing, and stressed that “two vaccines cost less that one PCR test.”
So far, healthcare professionals are the only ones for who vaccination is mandatory, but penalty measures against those who resist will not be implemented until early 2022.