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Hungary switches rollout to 'standby' as vaccination willingness wanes

Government

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Hungary will switch its mass COVID vaccination rollout to "standby" mode as the number of first-time jabs declines, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said in a weekly interview on public radio on Friday.

Speaking on Kossuth Rádió, Orbán noted that the number of first jabs administered on Thursday stood at 11,585, while the number of booster jabs reached 81,942.

He added that around 2.5 million Hungarians who are eligible for vaccination have not yet registered to be inoculated.

"Maintaining the inoculation system we have at present, one that poses an extraordinary burden for doctors and hospitals, is not reasonable, which is why we'll switch over from mass inoculation to standby inoculation. We'll make a decision on that in days. We'll keep a few inoculation points open, their selection is underway, and whoever wants to get a jab can go there to get one," the PM said.

He added that the "convenience" of going to one's GP or to the hospital for inoculation would end and urged people to get their jabs in the coming days.

So far, 54% of Hungary's population has had a single jab of COVID vaccine, and 38% have had a booster jab, he said.

Orbán thanked those who contributed to the organization of the vaccination rollout as well as the doctors and nurses who administered the jabs, and he acknowledged the more than 5 million Hungarians who were inoculated.

"From here on out it's everybody's individual responsibility," he said, arguing that policy measures can no longer raise the number of vaccinated people. "The number of vaccinated can only be raised by individual, personal decisions," he added. "Until now, I think it was the responsibility of the state to ensure the success of the vaccination rollout. It was our responsibility to organize it, to get vaccines and get them to people. We have fulfilled this responsibility."

"From now on there is individual responsibility, as it depends only on [Hungarians] whether or not to get the vaccine, and we can't take responsibility for the consequences," Orbán noted.

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