Compulsory Covid vaccine would have 'marginal impact' on uptake, argues health expert

15 November 2020, 13:43 | Updated: 16 November 2020, 08:58

By Seán Hickey

This Global Health expert stressed that people who aren't in the at-risk categories for coronavirus will 'need to be persuaded' to take a vaccine.

Professor David Salisbury spoke to Tom Swarbrick after news of coronavirus vaccines coming into circulation at the end of this year was unveiled this week.

The former director of immunisation at the Department of Health, and associate fellow of Chatham House’s Global Health Programme admitted that "certainly in this instance of Covid vaccination," he would not be arguing at all for making the Covid-19 vaccine compulsory.

The Chair of the WHO Global Commission for Certification of Polio Eradication went on to explain in this wave, there is simply not enough vaccine available to make it compulsory.

He argued that priority is to have enough vaccine to make sure people that want to be vaccinated can be.

He argued that reports should not get bogged down on statistics and projected required take-ups of the jab, telling Tom that "grabbing a number isn't going to give us an answer, it's doing it."

On the question of making the vaccine compulsory, Tom wondered if there is "an argument to say for those who are most at risk, we are requiring you to take the vaccine in order to come out of lockdown."

Professor Salisbury pointed out that "we have uptake of seasonal flu vaccine of up to 75%," from at-risk groups, and argued that he "would be surprised if we made much of a marginal impact on that existing...intake," if the vaccine was made compulsory.

On the other hand, Professor Salisbury noted it is low-risk communities where the uptake will be least impressive.

He added that Government will have a massive task "to persuade people to want to be vaccinated for their own benefit and for the benefit of others."

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