Malawi makes COVID-19 vaccines mandatory for frontline workers

by Reuters
Thursday, 16 December 2021 15:20 GMT

BLANTYRE, Dec 16 (Reuters) - Malawi will make COVID-19 vaccines mandatory for frontline staff including health workers and journalists, health minister Khumbize Kandodo Chiponda said on Thursday, as the country grapples with a surge in new infections.

Chiponda told journalists the directive, aimed at public service workers, would be effective from Dec. 20.

"Uptake of (COVID-19) vaccines has not been high enough towards reaching our goal of vaccinating at least 60% of eligible Malawians by the end of next year. The vaccine remains our best preventive tool," she said.

"Accumulating data is continuing to indicate that the majority of those being admitted to our emergency treatment units or losing their lives to COVID-19 have not been vaccinated."

Malawi, which reported its first cases of the new Omicron coronavirus variant last week, has seen daily COVID-19 infections soar this week. On Wednesday it reported 318 new cases, compared to less than 20 on most days in recent weeks.

Just over 3% of its population is fully vaccinated.

The issue of whether to make vaccination against the coronavirus mandatory has split public opinion globally. Some politicians and citizens say such measures infringe on personal choice and others say they serve to protect the public.

The government also tightened its lockdown restrictions, including limiting indoor gatherings to not more than 100 people and 250 people outdoors. (Reporting by Frank Phiri; Editing by Olivia Kumwenda-Mtambo and Susan Fenton)

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