SANTIAGO, Jan 5 (Reuters) - Chilean lawmakers on Tuesday
presented a bill before Congress that would make vaccination
against the coronavirus mandatory as the country's center-right
government pushes to inosculate the majority of its population
The bill would modify the country's health code, which
already requires vaccination against smallpox, whooping cough
and other diseases, according to the opposition Christian
Democracy party lawmakers who submitted the legislation.
Chile was the first country in South America to begin a
COVID-19 vaccination program.
The Andean nation is also among the best positioned in the
region for vaccine supply, having struck deals with AstraZeneca
Plc <AZN.L >, Pfizer Inc and partner BioNTech SE
, and China's Sinovac Biotech Ltd.
"As we move forward in this process, we are unfortunately
going to meet 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 10
Chileans said they would be willing to get vaccinated.
Silber said the legislation would help assure Chile could
effectively vaccinate 80% of its population, which health
experts in the country say would be necessary to achieve herd
immunity and stem virus transmission.
Health Minister Enrique Paris said earlier this week that
officials would study the proposal.
Chile began vaccinating frontline healthcare workers shortly
before Christmas, and said other state officials involved in the
fight against the virus, as well as the elderly and chronically
ill are next in line.
(Reporting by Natalia Ramos, Writing by Dave Sherwood; Editing
by Bill Berkrot)