Ecuador makes COVID-19 vaccination obligatory

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A woman reacts as she receives the first dose of China's Sinovac Biotech vaccine against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), during a mass vaccination program for the elderly, at the Bolivarian Technology Institute in Guayaquil, Ecuador April 15, 2021. REUTERS/Santiago Arcos

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BOGOTA, Dec 23 (Reuters) - Ecuador's government said on Thursday it has made it obligatory for eligible people to be vaccinated against COVID-19, amid an increase in cases and the circulation of new variants of the disease.

About 12.4 million Ecuadoreans - or 77.2% of those aged 5 and over - have been fully vaccinated against the disease, the health ministry said in a statement.

Indonesia, Micronesia, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan require vaccination for adults, and German and Austria will next year. read more

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"Ecuador declares vaccination against COVID-19 to be obligatory. This decision was taken because of the current epidemiological situation: the increase in infections and the circulation of new variants of concern like Omicron," the statement added.

The government, which had previously said it wanted to vaccinate 85% of its population this year, added that there are enough vaccine doses to immunize all its 17.8 million people.

"Immunization will not be obligatory for people who have a medical condition or incompatibility. In that case, a certification must be presented," the statement said.

The Andean country has confirmed more than 537,000 cases of COVID and linked nearly 33,600 deaths to the disease.

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Reporting by Julia Symmes Cobb

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