Health Secretary Matt Hancock has refused to rule out the possibility that Covid-19 vaccination could become mandatory for UK citizens, should a vaccine become available.
His comments came after it was announced that a US firm, Moderna, declared its vaccine to be 94.5 per cent effective against the virus.
While there are no current proposals to make vaccination mandatory, Downing Street has not distanced itself from the idea entirely.
‘It’s the right thing to do’
Speaking to TalkRadio, Hancock said, “I hope that a very large proportion of people will want to take the vaccine, because it’s the right thing to do. But we are not proposing at this stage to make it mandatory”
When asked if he could rule out mandatory vaccinations, the Health Secretary said, “I have learned not to rule things out during this pandemic because you have to watch what happens and you have to make judgements accordingly.”
He added that there were “complications” around making such a thing mandatory, as some may not be able to be vaccinated due to medical reasons.
‘We want as many people as possible to take the vaccine’
Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s official spokesperson said, “We want as many people as possible to take the vaccine.
“It will go through rigorous safety checks before it is cleared for use. But we are not proposing to make it mandatory.”
When asked if there could be restrictions for those who refused to take the vaccine, such as a public transport ban, the spokesperson repeated, “We are not proposing to make it mandatory.”
Not part of the plan in Wales
Wales’ Health Minister Vaughan Gething said that a mandatory vaccination would be “the most extreme and most unlikely outcome possible.”
Speaking to a press conference, he said that it was “certainly not any part of our working assumption” in Wales.
Gething added that he has always been “deeply sceptical” about the benefits of mandatory vaccination, and was not “particularly keen to try to change the law for that to happen.”
He said, “I’m interested that people understand the evidence about the safety of a vaccine, then making the right choice to protect them, their family and their community.”