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New Caledonia to make Covid-19 vaccinations compulsory

Friday 3 September 2021 | Written by RNZ | Published in New Caledonia, Regional


New Caledonia to make Covid-19 vaccinations compulsory
Yannick Slamet is second from the left. Photo: AFP or licensors

New Caledonia's Congress has unanimously voted to make vaccinations against Covid-19 mandatory.

The government's spokesperson Yannick Slamet said this makes New Caledonia the fourth country to impose vaccination compulsion, after Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and the Vatican.

New Caledonia is Covid-19 free but only a third of the population has been vaccinated.

The new law, which will come into effect when it is gazetted, is also meant to clear the way for France to order anyone entering New Caledonia to be fully vaccinated.

While New Caledonia's autonomy gives it control over healthcare, border control is in the domain of the French state.

The secretary of Congress commission finalising the text Philippe Michel said being Covid-19 free gives the authorities an extraordinary opportunity and an immense responsibility that this situation can be maintained.

However, he said, with the threat of the Delta variant the current strategy won't hold up.

While the borders are largely closed until the end of December, all medical personnel as well as airport and port workers must get vaccinated by year's end or face a US$1,750 fine.

There is no provision to punish any member of the public for rejecting a vaccine.

Michel said it is important not to believe that doing nothing is a solution, adding these measures are taken to try to avoid the type of catastrophe seen in French Polynesia.

The head of the commission Milakulo Tukumuli, who is one of the few unvaccinated members of the Congress, said given the situation in French Polynesia and given scientific updates, he will get vaccinated.

He said there is a consensus which is a good thing.

New Caledonia closed its borders in March last year and has been operating a compulsory quarantine system for those allowed to enter.