COVID-19 vaccine update: Fauci says won’t make vaccination mandatory in the US

Coronavirus vaccines won’t be mandated by the US government, says leading epidemiologist Dr Anthony Fauci.

Washington: Dr Anthony Fauci, the United States’ leading epidemiologist, has said that coronavirus vaccines won’t be mandated by the government, although local jurisdictions could make it compulsory for some groups such as children. The comments from the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases came even as a recent Gallup poll showed that more than a third of Americans are not ready to get vaccinated against COVID-19, the disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

“You don’t want to mandate and try and force anyone to take a vaccine. We’ve never done that,” said Fauci, a member of the White House coronavirus task force, during a video talk organised by George Washington University, reported AFP.

Fauci doesn’t think the US government would ever mandate a COVID-19 vaccine for the general population.

“You can mandate for certain groups of people like health workers, but for the general population you can’t, he added,” citing the example of the National Institutes of Health, where health workers can’t treat patients without a flu shot.

Fauci, however, added that this doesn’t prevent states from making a vaccine mandatory for children to attend school, as is already the case for certain diseases such as measles, though some are exempt for medical or religious reasons, added the report.

Meanwhile, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison backtracked on comments he made saying COVID-19 vaccines, once approved, would be mandatory for everyone in his country.

“Can I be really clear to everyone? It’s not going to be compulsory to have the vaccine, OK?” Morrison said on Wednesday on Australian radio station 2GB.

Recently, the US’ top infectious diseases official told Healthline that he continues to be cautiously optimistic that the US will know if there’s an effective, safe vaccine around the end of 2020 or the start of 2021. Fauci told the website that by the end of 2021, he expects to have enough doses for anyone who wants to get vaccinated, should a vaccine be approved.

Several coronavirus vaccine candidates have moved into the final phase of testing as scientists and health researchers work round-the clock to find a safe and effective jab for COVID-19. The US government has pre-ordered hundreds of millions of vaccine doses from six companies, which will be distributed for free to all Americans.

The US government has set up Operation Warp Speed OWS), a partnership with the Department of Health and Human Services, the FDA and other federal agencies, to help speed up the vaccine development and fund the trials, with the goal of delivering 300 million doses of a safe, effective COVID-19 vaccine by January 2021.

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