03/21/2022 / By Ramon Tomey
Several members of parliament (MPs) in Germany have advocated for making Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccines mandatory. MPs in favor of mandatory injections also pointed their fingers at unvaccinated people as the reason for continued COVID-19 restrictions.
Lawmakers at the Bundestag, the German federal parliament, held a debate regarding the issue on March 17. No decision has been made on the matter as MPs were divided on whether the mandate would apply to all adults 18 and older, all adults aged 50 and up or have no vaccine mandate at all.
MP Heike Baehrens of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) argued that a vaccine mandate for all Germans aged 18 and older was necessary to prevent another wave of COVID-19 infections from overrunning the country. The more people are vaccinated, the sooner can Germany rescind all restrictions and return to normal. Baehrens added that this high vaccination rate must be achieved by the fall season of 2022.
German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach, also from the SPD, agreed with his colleague’s sentiments regarding mandatory vaccination. “We will be in the same place in the fall as we are now if we do not seize this unique opportunity together. The probability that we will have no trouble fighting the COVID-19 pandemic in the fall is close to zero,” he said.
Lauterbach also blamed unvaccinated Germans for the high number of COVID-19 cases in the country, saying: “The unvaccinated are currently responsible for us not getting anywhere.”
The health minister remarked that individuals not yet injected with the COVID-19 shot are “holding the country hostage.” While Germany has a 75 percent vaccination rate, data has shown that the vaccines do not prevent transmission and only increase the chances of hospitalization.
MP Emilia Fester, the youngest Bundestag member of the Greens party, also blamed the unvaccinated for her lack of freedom. “Had you and your freedom-loving friends been vaccinated, like most of us reasonable people who took this simple step have, then I would be free right now. We would all be free, or at least be freer,” Fester said, addressing the MPs from right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) Party. (Related: Germany’s COVID vaccine mandate could be delayed due to “bureaucratic hurdles.”)
MP Alice Weidel, who leads the AfD’s faction in the Bundestag, called the idea of mandatory vaccination “a dead horse.” She explained: “There is no legitimate and constitutionally acceptable justification for the introduction of mandatory vaccination against COVID-19.”
Bundestag Vice President Wolfgang Kubicki of the liberal Free Democratic Party also joined Weidel in opposing the vaccine mandate. “The case for getting jabbed convinces me, [but] the case for mandatory jabs does not,” he said. The fully-vaccinated Kubicki had earlier posted his positive PCR test result on Facebook, where he pointed out that mandating COVID-19 vaccines is absurd. “I’ve received my boosters and yet I’m still contagious. This goes to show that a state-imposed mandatory vaccination is completely pointless,” he wrote.
Justice Minister Marco Buschmann of the SDP, meanwhile, took the middle ground and suggested a compromise. He argued that a partial COVID-19 vaccine mandate for German adults aged 50 and up could be “carefully considered,” given that the age group is said to be most at risk from COVID-19. Ultimately, Berlin decided not to issue a proposal for the time being, leaving the task to parliamentary groups.
German MPs favoring mandatory vaccination contrasted with the decision of neighboring Austria when it comes to vaccine mandates. Austria’s new law, which mandated huge fines for the unvaccinated, was suspended on March 9.
“After consultations with the health minister, we have decided that we will … follow what the [Austrian expert] commission has said. We see no need to actually implement this compulsory vaccination due to the [B11529 omicron] variant that we are predominantly experiencing here,” said Austrian Minister for the European Union and the Constitution Karoline Edtstadler.
However, the Austrian official added that the suspension is not permanent. The commission will re-evaluate the law and the situation in mid-June. “I don’t think I need a crystal ball to tell you that today isn’t the last chapter we will write regarding the vaccination mandate,” she said.
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