European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Wednesday that it is time to "potentially think about mandatory vaccination within the European Union" and have a discussion about the measure.
When asked during a news conference about her position on mandatory vaccination following Greece's decision to impose a roughly $113 fine on people over 60 years old who remain unvaccinated by mid-January, von der Leyen said it is "pure member state competence. Therefore, in respect to that, it's not me to give any kind of recommendation."
“If you're asking me what my personal position is? Two or three years ago, I would never have thought to witness what we see right now, that we have this horrible pandemic, we have the vaccines, the life saving vaccines, but they are not being used adequately everywhere," she said.
“And thus, these costs, of course, an enormous, or this is an enormous health cost coming along," she continued.
“If you look at the numbers we have now 77% of the adults in the European Union vaccinated or if you take the whole population, it's 66%. And this means 1/3 of the European population is not vaccinated. These are 150 million people. This is a lot," von der Leyen noted.
She went on to outline her position on vaccination mandates, saying, “Not each and everyone can be vaccinated, so there are very small children, for example, or people with special medical conditions, but the vast majority could."
“And therefore, I think it is understandable and appropriate to lead this discussion now. How we can encourage and potentially think about mandatory vaccination within the European Union, this needs discussion. This needs a common approach but it is a discussion that I think has to be led," she continued.