Belgium’s parliament must debate mandatory vaccination quickly, says health minister

Belgium’s parliament must debate mandatory vaccination quickly, says health minister
Belgium's Federal Parliament. Credit: Belga

Federal Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke has called on the Chamber to hold an urgent and thorough parliamentary debate on the possible introduction of a vaccination obligation.

This is not the first time that the question has been raised whether the coronavirus vaccine should be made compulsory for the general adult population. But both it is a divisive topic, both socially and politically.

At the end of 2021, Prime Minister Alexander De Croo passed the discussion on to the Corona Commission, which was asked to investigate how the vaccination rate could be increased further. Making vaccination compulsory is one of those options.

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However, the Parliament does not have to wait for this evaluation, Vandenbroucke suggested: “The Corona Commission will gather the insights, but it will not take a position, nor is it up to the Consultative Committee to decide,” he said in the Chamber on Monday afternoon. “This requires legislation and a broad parliamentary debate. If it were up to me, I would not wait.”

Extending the emergency situation

A new Consultative Committee is expected to take place next week, although the exact date has not yet been scheduled.

As foreseen in the Pandemic Law, Vandenbroucke presented the monthly report on the epidemic emergency with Interior Minister Annelies Verlinden. That emergency situation is currently set to end on 28 January; in order to maintain the current coronavirus measures, it must be extended.

According to Verlinden, advice on this is expected from the Risk Assessment Group (RAG) “and the other crisis management bodies” in the coming days. “After that, we will decide on any extension and how long it should be.”

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