EU vaccination targets reached: now what?

Despite all the complaints about the slow pace of vaccination in the EU, the European Commission's goal of vaccinating 70 percent of adults by the end of the summer has now been achieved. The vaccination rates among individual member states vary widely, however, with only 17 percent vaccinated in Bulgaria and 27 percent in Romania, for example. This and other factors are dampening the enthusiasm in the commentary columns.

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Denik (CZ) /

Summon the courage to impose mandatory vaccination

The Czech Republic is among the countries that have still not reached the EU's vaccination target. For Deník there can only be one consequence:

“Not even 60 percent of Czechs have had their second dose. Doctors say that the Delta variant can only be stopped when 85 to 90 percent have had their jabs. ... The government now plans to launch a new campaign to convince people to be vaccinated. In the view of Milan Kubek, President of the Czech Medical Chamber, that will not be enough. From a medical point of view, he adds, the best thing would be compulsory vaccination for everyone. That's right. Why on earth doesn't the government have the courage to go through with it?”

RFI România (RO) /

Typically Romanian - unfortunately

Poor vaccination rates are a tradition among Romanians, sighs journalist Ovidiu Nahoi at RFI România:

“At the beginning of 2008, the HPV vaccination recommended by the WHO for girls between 11 and 14 [mainly to prevent cervical cancer] turned out to be a failure. In the first year of the vaccination campaign alone, tens of thousands of doses were thrown away. ... The measles epidemic from 2016 to 2019 claimed the lives of many unvaccinated children. According to Unicef data, more than 18,000 measles cases were recorded during this period, resulting in 64 deaths. ... All of this demonstrates the profound problems in Romanian society which still clearly separate us from civilised Europe.”

Večernji list (HR) /

Darwinism replaces campaign

Just under 40 percent of the population is fully vaccinated in Croatia. The government has obviously given up trying to increase this rate, Večernji list notes:

“The idea behind a high, nationwide vaccination rate was to make it at least half-way possible to return to normality and save the budget. However, now that it's clear that distrust on the part of opponents of vaccination is so strong that this goal belongs to the realm of science fiction, the Croatian government is pragmatically holding up its hands, throwing in the towel and admitting defeat. ... Now Darwinism is the order of the day: every newly infected person who is not vaccinated and ends up in hospital has only himself to blame. These people will not be deprived of their health insurance, but no one will weep for them either.”

Die Presse (AT) /

Society has forgotten mutual respect

The vaccination campaign is a sobering testimony to how selfish many Europeans are, writes Die Presse:

“Putting up with lockdowns and curfews was undoubtedly a strain for everyone. For some, however, the only thing that mattered was their own freedom. At a certain point they were no longer willing to participate in efforts to contain the pandemic. ... There may be many reasons for this - legitimate ones, too. But what resonates is a lack of willingness to make a personal contribution to solving a problem that affects society as a whole. ... For decades, individuality and assertiveness have been considered a prerequisite for private and professional success, while mutual respect and the ability to work in groups are considered 'nice' but not very competitive qualities. We are now paying for this.”

Le Monde (FR) /

French now the new role models

Soon 50 million people in France will have received their jabs, bringing the vaccination rate up to around 75 percent. Le Monde explains the change of stance:

“Often portrayed as a nation of rebels, our country is doing better than the UK, a pioneer and long-time European champion, and better than Germany, the US and even Israel, once considered a role model. ... The rush to vaccination centres after the president's speech illustrates a French paradox. The people, reportedly so weary of political speeches, have listened to what the president said and largely obeyed his instructions. As if they needed a word from up on high to truly understand what's at stake with vaccination.”

Contrepoints (FR) /

Health pass has become a risk

The fact that three-quarters of the French are vaccinated won't help matters much, Contrepoints suspects:

“Vaccinated people, infected with the virus but exempt from all precautions, are being released into the wild like viral bombs. Within a few weeks, vaccination has gone from being a protective mechanism to a recognised risk factor for transmission. Even the French Scientific Council has finally realised that the effectiveness of vaccination is diminishing and has asked the government to change its stance and declare in a politically correct way that the passport is useless, if not downright dangerous.”

Polityka (PL) /

No safety without a high jab rate

Poland's President Duda has spoken out against compulsory vaccination, which Polityka finds incomprehensible:

“Many people still haven't understood that mass vaccination offers broad protection to everyone, and the Polish president apparently hasn't done his homework either. Epidemiologists call this 'cocooning'. It can prevent viruses from entering a population group that also includes people with weakened immune systems or so-called non-responders who will never develop the necessary antibodies. The more tightly we weave this cocoon, or in other words, the more people we vaccinate, the less opportunity the virus will have to attack and mutate. And it is these mutations, after all, that we fear most.”

NRC Handelsblad (NL) /

Vaccination mainly about self-protection

In the Netherlands, the rate of vaccination is slowing down while the number of new infections has not decreased. But many of the accusations levelled at the unvaccinated are unfounded, NRC Handelsblad explains:

“There is little chance of ever achieving herd immunity against the coronavirus. As a result there can be no free riders. ... The conclusion is that we get vaccinated mainly for our own protection, to avoid the risk of severe symptoms from Covid. As far as protecting others is concerned, vaccination helps somewhat, but it's no guarantee. ... So does that mean that the decision not to be get the jab has no consequences? Will full hospitals say to Covid patients who are struggling to breathe and who deliberately didn't get vaccinated: 'Sorry, it's your own fault'? No. That's not what happens with drunk drivers, smokers or the obese either.”