The battle rages over mandatory vaccinations for high-risk groups

Prime Minister Petr Fiala entered the coronavirus fray by stressing that, unlike his predecessor, he would not issue impromptu orders and bans, but would rely on common sense and public goodwill. Since taking office, he has repeatedly called on the Czechs to protect themselves and others and to be vaccinated against Covid to help the country return to normal life.

However, there is an uncompromising directive from the Babiš government that the new prime minister will have to face, which orders compulsory vaccination of people over 60 and those in high-risk professions such as health workers, police officers. , soldiers, firefighters and employees. in social services from March 2022.

Illustrative photo: Barbora Sonnková, Czech Radio

Fiala cabinet announced plans to end compulsory vaccination for people due to their age, but seemed inclined to leave the directive in place for people in high-risk occupations. Now he is facing a storm of dissent from those concerned and the issue of compulsory vaccination has turned into a bitter battle not only among ordinary people but also among medical experts.

On Monday, Initiative 21, which fights against compulsory vaccinations, announced that 14,000 people have now signed a petition against compulsory vaccination, including 3,200 members of the country’s security forces.

The signatories – including police, firefighters, rescuers and soldiers – stress that the requirement may lead many professionals to leave the security forces and compromise the ability of the integrated rescue system to act.

According to available data, 75.6% of police officers are vaccinated against Covid, 76% of firefighters and 85% of the military.

Police President Jan Švejdar, a staunch opponent of compulsory vaccination for the police force, officially submitted his resignation to the new interior minister on Monday. Although he did not indicate that this was the reason he left the force after 35 years of service, it was one of the issues that he said made communication with the Department of Difficult interior.

Jan vejdar |  Photo: Jan Ptáček, Czech Radio

He warned earlier that the force could not afford to lose up to a quarter of trained professionals, adding that some of those against the vaccination had already decided to quit the police.

In the health sector, the directive caused an even greater upheaval, dividing both epidemiologists and specialists from other spheres of medicine.

More than 1,700 doctors have signed the petition against compulsory vaccinations, declaring that they are not against vaccination as such but against forced vaccination. Some say they and their families are fully vaccinated against Covid, but they cannot agree with the directive. This sparked a war of words between them and the president of the Czech medical chamber, Milan Kubek, who asked them to voluntarily leave the medical chamber for damaging their patients. He in turn has been accused of being highly unethical.

All eyes are now on the Fiala government, which should decide the thorny issue. Obviously, he is aware of the need to act with caution and to listen to those who oppose the measure. Interior Minister Vít Rakušan, who was originally in favor of compulsory vaccinations for the police, said he wanted to investigate the force to find out why a quarter of the police oppose the vaccination.

Berta D. Wells