The head of European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen has said European countries should consider mandatory vaccination to combat Covid and the Omicron variant.
She said vaccines would be crucial in the fight against the “highly contagious” new variant.
Some two dozen countries have reported cases of Omicron, and the EU has tightened travel restrictions since it was first reported earlier this month.
On Wednesday, von der Leyen said it was “understandable and appropriate” for EU members to discuss forced Covid vaccinations given that a third of the bloc’s population is unvaccinated.
She told a news conference in Brussels; “How we can encourage and potentially think about mandatory vaccination within the European Union? This needs discussion. This needs a common approach, but it is a discussion that I think has to be led,”.
Some EU states are already taking steps in that direction.
Austria has announced compulsory Covid vaccinations from February next year, while Greece is fining all unvaccinated over-60s €100 a month.
Meanwhile, Germany’s incoming Chancellor, Olaf Scholz, has said he supports compulsory jabs.
The WHO, which declared Omicron “of concern” on Friday following its rapid spread in South Africa, says it will know more about the new variant within days.
However, it has already said it believes existing vaccines “will still prevent severe disease” among people who contract the new variant.