SANTIAGO – Chilean lawmakers tabled a bill before Congress on Tuesday mandating vaccination against the coronavirus as the country’s center-right government urges vaccinating the majority of its population by mid-year.
The bill would change the country’s health code, which already requires vaccination against smallpox, whooping cough and other diseases, according to the opposition Christian Democracy legislature who proposed the legislation.
Chile was the first country in South America to start a COVID-19 vaccination program.
The Andean nation is also among the best positioned in the region for vaccine supply, having signed contracts with AstraZeneca Plc, Pfizer Inc and partner BioNTech SE as well as China’s Sinovac Biotech Ltd. has closed.
“As we progress in this process, we will unfortunately encounter resistance from compatriots,” said bill sponsor Gabriel Silber. He said the bill would help ensure the effectiveness of the country’s ambitious vaccination program.
An IPSOS survey in early December found that seven out of ten Chileans were willing to be vaccinated.
Silber said the legislation would help Chile effectively vaccinate 80% of its population, which health experts in the country believe would be necessary to achieve herd immunity and virus strain.
Health Minister Enrique Paris said earlier this week that officials would be considering the proposal.
Chile started vaccinating frontline health workers just before Christmas, saying that other state officials involved in fighting the virus, as well as the elderly and chronically ill, are next.