More Hungarians to take COVID-19 booster shots – PM Orban

A nurse gives a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to a patient at Bethesda Children’s Hospital as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, in Budapest, Hungary, Nov. 23, 2021. REUTERS/Bernadett Szabo

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BUDAPEST, Nov. 26 (Reuters) – Hungary must increase the number of people taking booster shots against COVID-19 to contain infections, Prime Minister Viktor Orban told state radio on Friday.

Orban said the government would extend a special campaign to make vaccines available without pre-registration until next week following an increase in COVID-19 cases.

He said he “wouldn’t rule out anything” but that if the spread of the virus can be slowed down with vaccines, no lockdown measures will be needed.

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Neighboring Slovakia followed Austria’s lead on Wednesday, ordering a two-week lockdown to quell a rapid rise in COVID-19 cases.

Orban said the government would make vaccines available to parents if they want their children between the ages of 5 and 11 vaccinated, and has ordered 2 million doses for the purpose, with the first shipment coming next month.

The European Medicines Agency has approved the use of Pfizer-BioNTechs (PFE.N), (22UAy.DE) COVID-19 vaccine for the age group on Thursday.

Hungary, a country of 10 million with a vaccination rate below the European Union average, reported a record 12,637 new daily COVID-19 cases on Wednesday.

Orban’s government, which faces elections in April 2022 and opposes further lockdowns for fear of stifling the economy, launched a vaccination campaign this week, offering vaccine shots without pre-registration.

Thursday’s data showed that 5.81 million people, or just under 60% of the population, have been fully vaccinated, while 2.15 million have received booster injections.

Hungary has made booster shots mandatory for health workers and, since Saturday, wearing a protective mask has been made mandatory again in most places indoors. But the changes do not meet the strict measures Hungarian doctors are pushing for as hospitals fill up.

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Reporting by Krisztina Than; Editing by Kim Coghill and Timothy Heritage

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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