Gov’t Mulls Compulsory Vaccination for Some Jobs

Government

Uptake of the COVID-19 vaccine among Hungary’s seniors has been high. From August 1, booster shots should be available for those whose second jab was more than four months ago.

Photo by Rido / Shutterstock.com

With nearly 64% of the population inoculated against the coronavirus, Hungary’s vaccination rollout has been the second-fastest in the European Union, according to conservative daily Magyar Nemzet (Hungarian Nation). As of July 28, some 5,605,713 people had been vaccinated in Hungary. The rates for the older population are relatively high, while those for younger Hungarians are hovering around the 50% mark.

As the vaccine rollout expands to the youngest generations, the government is weighing whether inoculation against the coronavirus should be mandatory for some occupations in which getting a jab is “more than a matter of one’s own responsibility,” as Gergely Gulyás, the head of the Prime Minister’s Office, put it at a weekly press briefing on July 15.

Although there are provisions in the constitution on people exercising responsibility for themselves, Gulyás said the question of requiring COVID vaccination in certain professional situations, such as in the healthcare sector, must be considered. Additionally, the government has decided that, from August 1, it will allow booster shots for people who had their second jab of the vaccine more than four months ago, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said in his weekly interview on Kossuth Rádió on July 16.

Meanwhile, the delivery of COVID vaccines to Hungary continues according to schedule, with a pair of weekly shipments of 260,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine arriving over the past two weeks. The latest arrival raises total deliveries of the Comirnaty vaccine to Hungary to about 6.9 million doses.

Flush With Vaccines

Indeed, Hungary is so flush with vaccines, relative to their need in the vaccination rollout, that the country has been donating, lending, and selling its excess volumes. For instance, on July 16, Hungary delivered another 200,000 of the Pfizer-BioNTech jabs it is loaning to the Czech Republic. Hungary had already lent 140,950 of the vaccines to its neighbor earlier in the summer. Austria, Hungary, and Slovenia made a joint pledge in April to supply the Czech Republic with COVID vaccines after the country’s order volume from Brussels was reduced following a redistribution compromise.

Hungary also sold 200,000 doses of the AstraZeneca COVID vaccine to Portugal, at cost, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó said at a joint press conference with his Portuguese counterpart Augusto Santos Silva in Lisbon. Szijjártó noted that Hungary has lent or donated 1.35 million jabs to eight countries, including three in the EU.

As vaccination spreads across Europe, travel documentation is naturally the next occupation on people’s minds. With the recent addition of Uzbekistan, Hungary has now reached a mutual agreement of accepting COVID immunity certificates with 20 countries. These countries include Albania, Bahrein, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, North Macedonia, Romania, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Turkey, and Ukraine.

Hungary is also now allowing Russian tourists vaccinated against the coronavirus into the country, Szijjártó said in a message posted on Facebook. He explained that the measure was reached on a principle of reciprocity, noting that Russia’s government had decided a few weeks earlier to start issuing visas to Hungarians for business and recreational travel on the condition they produce a negative PCR test. Prior to this, only Russian business travelers were being allowed into Hungary.

This article was first published in the Budapest Business Journal print issue of July 30, 2021.

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