Compulsory vaccinations in Poland: “On the best way to Armageddon”

As of: 01/17/2022 7:34 p.m

The vaccination campaign in Poland started quickly, and many people were vaccinated. A year later, however, just half of the population has been vaccinated twice. So vaccination is now being discussed.

By Martin Adam, ARD Studio Warsaw

In a commercial, Cezary Pazura, one of Poland’s most famous actors, advertises the corona vaccination. “I’m saying vaccination isn’t just your business. It’s a matter of the lives and health of others.” He was one of the prominent faces that the Polish government used to promote its vaccination campaign – exactly a year ago. And today? Is Poland at just under 57 percent doubly vaccinated.

Martin Adam
ARD Studio Warsaw

Many people remained cautious

That’s not much, given the furor with which the campaign started: Organized quickly and easily, the vaccination rate was higher than that in Germany for a long time – until it became apparent how many Poles were reluctant to get vaccinated. So now compulsory vaccination is also being discussed in Poland.

However, it should be a very limited one, explains Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki: “There is no proposal for compulsory vaccination for everyone on the table, at most for certain professional groups that are most at risk,” he says. “We are discussing compulsory vaccination for uniformed services.”

Vaccination for medical staff

So far, compulsory vaccination has only been decided for medical staff. By March, everyone who has direct contact with the sick, doctors, employees in pharmacies and nursing staff must provide proof of vaccination. However, the government leaves it to employers whether there are consequences for violations.

The obligation could soon be extended to the police and border guards, for example, but also to teachers. However, it is a plan that is dividing the government. On the one hand Przymyslaw Czarnek, the Minister of Education. Czarnek says: “I am a supporter of freedom and I appreciate this freedom. With good arguments and pointing out the situation in the hospitals, where mainly unvaccinated people die – we would benefit much more from that than with the fight for it, everyone to be forcibly vaccinated.”

On the other side is Minister of Health Adam Niedzielski. He says: “I remain absolutely committed to the fact that vaccination should be compulsory for uniformed personnel and teachers. And I will convince the government of this.”

Half are for – the other half against

The mood among the population is similarly undecided. A good half, 54 percent, speaks out in a recent survey by the newspaper “Rzeczpospolita” for a variant of compulsory vaccination.

The picture on the street in Warsaw is also not very uniform. “There is no vaccination requirement and it should stay that way. All the more so because there are people who say the vaccination doesn’t work at all,” says one man. A woman says: “I am not vaccinated myself. I am more afraid of the vaccine than of the virus.” A third, on the other hand, says: “In any case, I’m in favor of it, mainly because of public health. Human life is now more important than raising awareness for a long time.”

Corona Council throws down

At the end of last week, 13 of the prime minister’s 17 medical advisers resigned in protest against the lax corona policy. One of them, medical professor Anna Piekarska, describes the situation in Poland in drastic terms: “We now have the worst scenario that we warned about from the start.” The unvaccinated minority allows the virus to mutate and now infect vaccinated people again, she says. “We’re well on our way to Armageddon.”

At the moment, according to doctors, it is not even clear whether the current wave in Poland is still delta or already omicron. In any case, the responsible parliamentary committee has postponed the topic of “vaccination requirements” for the time being.

Poland discusses compulsory corona vaccination

Martin Adam, ARD Warsaw, 17.1.2022 · 18:57

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