Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has walked back comments he made about making the coronavirus vaccine “as mandatory as possible” after widespread public outrage.
Talking about a potential vaccine on Wednesday morning, Prime Minister Morrison told Melbourne radio station 3AW he would “expect it to be as mandatory as you can possibly make it”.
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“There are always exemptions for any vaccine on medical grounds, but that should be the only basis,” he said.
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However after the Australian public expressed strong and sustained disapproval regarding the idea of mandatory vaccinations, Morrison backed down and moved to assure Australians any coronavirus vaccine will not be compulsory, despite earlier saying he expected it would be mandatory.
Morrison told listeners on Sydney radio station 2GB that the government will not make the vaccination mandatory for anybody.
“It’s not going to be compulsory to have the vaccine,” he said.
“There are no mechanisms for compulsory … I mean, we can’t hold someone down and make them take it.“
ABC report: While the Government does not mandate vaccination for other diseases, parents can lose access to Government payments like the Family Tax Benefit A and the Child Care Subsidy if their children do not meet immunisation requirements.
Mr Morrison said the Government would take measures to “encourage” people to be vaccinated.
“Nobody’s going to force anybody to do anything as a compulsory measure, but we will certainly be encouraging people to take this up,” he said.
“There will be a lot of encouragement and measures to get [a] high rate of acceptance.
“What we want to achieve is as much vaccination as we possibly can, should the vaccine actually prove successful.“
Overnight the Federal Government announced it had signed a letter of intent with UK-based drug company AstraZeneca, in a step towards securing supply of a leading vaccine candidate that could be supplied free to Australians.
If a successful candidate is discovered, the Government wants to see 95 per cent of Australians vaccinated.