COVID Vaccine Compulsory for More Than 200 Million People Worldwide

Making COVID-19 vaccines compulsory was once an unthinkable prospect. But governments around the world are losing patience with people who have decided not to get inoculated—and some are imposing mandates in efforts to save thousands of lives and avoid disastrous new waves of infection.

At least 203.15 million people worldwide are affected by these mandates, according to a calculation by Newsweek based on figures from World Population Review.

This figure does not include countries such as the U.S., which have introduced compulsory vaccination for some workers and public officials but not for the rest of the population. The calculation only includes countries that have enacted mandates for their whole adult population.

On November 23, Austria became the first Western democracy and European Union member state to announce restrictions, saying vaccination would be compulsory from February 1. The government in Vienna has not yet made it clear what penalties it will impose on people who flout the rules.

According to World Population Review, some 7.47 million adults could be affected by the mandate. The move came days after Austria reintroduced lockdown for unvaccinated people. As of December 2, 70 percent of the population had received at least one dose, while 66 percent was fully vaccinated, according to Our World in Data.

Turkmenistan made vaccination compulsory for all eligible adults in July, except those with certain medical conditions. This would apply to about 3.95 million adults, according to World Population Review. Our World in Data states that 72 percent of the Turkmen population has had at least one shot and 52 percent of the population is fully vaccinated.

Micronesia also made vaccines compulsory for all residents aged 18 and above in July. People who don't get the jab will be denied federal funds, which most of the island nation's population receives. Around 73,400 people could be affected.

Indonesia introduced a mandatory vaccination policy in February. The penalties for unvaccinated residents include fines, as well as denial of social assistance and government services. There are 191.66 million people over 18 in Indonesia, according to World Population Review. As of December 2, 51 percent of the population has had the vaccine and 35 percent are fully vaccinated, according to Our World in Data.

After the emergence of the Omicron variant in mid-November, more and more countries are considering vaccine mandates.

On Thursday, Germany, which is experiencing its worst COVID wave since the start of the pandemic, moved a step closer to a vaccine mandate as Chancellor Angela Merkel announced a lockdown for unvaccinated people. On the same day, Europe's biggest economy recorded 73,279 new cases and 390 additional deaths. It set a record for daily new cases on November 24, with 79,051.

The president of the European Union, Ursula von der Leyen, said on Thursday it was time for member states to consider mandatory vaccinations. The surge of cases across the 27-nation bloc has already led many governments to reintroduce restrictions and mask mandates. As of December 2, 67 percent of the EU's population is fully vaccinated, not a high enough proportion to contain COVID-19.

Last week, President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa said his country's COVID-19 task team was discussing a mandatory vaccine policy.

One EU member, Slovakia, is considering a different approach—paying adults 500 euros ($567) to get vaccinated.

Covid screening
A health official picks up a specimen storage vial while conducting COVID-19 screening of passengers at a railway station in Bangalore, southern India, on December 3. More and more governments are considering vaccine mandates. Manjunath Kiran