World Health Organization says vaccine mandates should be a 'last resort'

On the occasion of Novak Djokovic's case, many people have spoken out in recent days, and finally the World Health Organization (WHO) commented on it.

Source: B92, Z.K.
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Foto: Shutterstock/Viacheslav Lopatin
Foto: Shutterstock/Viacheslav Lopatin

A statement was issued from the headquarters of the organization in the light of the latest developments concerning the refusal of visas and the possible deportation of the best tennis player in the world.

The WHO says that vaccination status should not be used to disqualify people from international travel, and it is recommended that governments should use vaccination mandates as a "last resort".

All eyes are now on Australian Immigration Minister Alex Hawke on whether the world tennis number one will be allowed to stay in the country for the Australian Open.

Australia is in a special focus because only those vaccinated against coronavirus are currently able to enter that country.

WHO Health Emergencies Programme Executive Director Dr Mike Ryan said vaccine requirements must be applied with caution.

"We see mandates as a last resort in the face of a large epidemic. So yes, there are circumstances in which vaccine mandates are supported by WHO but, again, it is subjected to the basic principle that the best way to get people vaccinated is to inform them, to educate, to have a dialogue and to address people's genuine concerns. We always ask that those mandates be clear, be explicit, be time-limited and at the same time, governments continue to explain to people why they're doing things and continue to try and convince people of the benefits of the vaccine rather than reverting to mandates as a single approach", Ryan said.

WHO director of immunisation vaccines and biologicals Katherine O'Brien said people should not be barred from entering countries due to their vaccination status. She added this was due to not everyone having the same access to vaccines.

"Free and full access to safe and effective vaccines is the absolute precondition before a mandate is made and that is a grounding principle. It's also a grounding reason why there is not a requirement from WHO, a recommendation around any requirement for crossing international borders, although the status of somebody's vaccination may be considered with respect to other conditions that may be imposed on people through the course of their travel", O'Brien concluded.

The example of Russian tennis player Natalia Vikhlyantseva is clear in that sense and shows how bad the rules set for travelers to Australia are not good enough.

Vikhlyantseva was twice vaccinated with the Sputnik V vaccine, but as that vaccine is not recognized in Australia, she was prevented from traveling to the first Grand Slam of the season and competing.

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