Puducherry Makes Jab Compulsory as Omicron Triggers Alert. Should Rest of India Now Follow Suit? | EXPLAINED


As Omicron concerns are mounting globally, states are intensifying steps to contain the spread of the heavily mutated virus. The territorial government of Puducherry on Sunday has announced that the Covid-19 vaccination is compulsory in the UT with immediate effect. This comes after the government ramped up inoculation drives across the country, to restrict contagion and help the pandemic-wreaked economy.

In a bid to recover exacerbated healthcare systems, experts across the world are mulling to make vaccination compulsory. Earlier this week, the European Union commission head stated that countries should consider mandatory vaccination to combat the Omicron variant. Ursula von der Leyen said vaccines would be crucial in the fight against the “highly contagious” new variant.

Amid fresh travel curbs, tightened rules, countries are facing a wider spike in cases once again. However, The World Health Organization (WHO), meanwhile, said early signs were that most cases of the Omicron variant were “mild”.

Why Mandatory vaccination?

Nearly two years after Chinese doctors first observed mysterious new cases of pneumonia, Covid-19 is very much with us. While vaccination has been proven to be beneficial against the virus, could mandatory vaccinations be a way out?

Historically, immunisation campaigns have seen huge success, eliminating diseases like smallpox or drastically reducing mortality levels in others. Jason Schwartz, an associate professor in the History of Medicine at Yale University told BBC, “We have really good examples that just show a direct causal relationship between requirements, getting very high vaccination rates, and protecting not just individuals but protecting communities.” He added, “vaccines work, they absolutely work, we’re got a large body of evidence to show that.”

Covid vaccinations are already a requirement for public life in many parts of the world. Several countries have made shots essential to go to work. In Indonesia, you can be denied benefits, if you refuse jabs, while Greece is making them compulsory for the over-60s. In the Gulf monarchy, all public and private sector employees must get inoculated to be physically present at work, while anyone wanting to enter government buildings and schools, or wishing to use public transport or travel outside the kingdom must show proof of having received double doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.

‘Human Rights Issue’

Aljazeera quoted Kanstantsin Dzehtsiarou, a professor in human rights law at the University of Liverpool, who said that there is a very clear connection between human rights and mandatory vaccinations. “It is 100 percent a human rights issue related to the right to privacy and the right to bodily integrity. Human rights protect our bodies and our ability to be the masters of our bodies. The consequence of this is our ability to determine our medical treatments,” he said.

But this right is not “absolute”, Dzehtsiarou said, which implies that governments can interfere with it if they can justify for achievement of another valuable goal.

Several countries reported protests against lockdowns, inoculation drives and myths surrounding vaccinations. In London, anti-lockdown demonstrators took to the streets to demonstrate against a lockdown. In India, government officials, frontline workers have been constantly working on busting myths revolving around Covid-19 vaccination. The point is, whatever a government does, it will face opposition. Covid restrictions in particular have drawn protests around the world and mandatory vaccinations are a step beyond.

Which Indian States and Districts have announced fresh rules on Vaccination?

In the wake of Omicron cases detected in India, several states have announced fresh restrictions for those who are still unvaccinated. Tamil Nadu’s Madurai announced that unvaccinated people would not be allowed to enter malls, shopping complexes and other public places from next week. Karnataka, has made the two-dose vaccination mandatory for entry into public places. In Maharashtra’s Aurangabad citizens who have not even received one dose of vaccine will not receive petrol, gas or ration. While, vaccination has been made compulsory for all workers at hotels, resorts and shops located in tourist places.

Which Countries made vaccination mandatory either for frontline workers or for accessing public spaces?

Austria, Germany, Greece, UK, Italy, France, Sweden, Indonesia, Micronesia, Turkmenistan, Canada, Costa Rica, Denmark, Egypt, Fiji, Hungary, Latvia, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United States, New Zealand, China, Switzerland and many more.

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