Brussels [Belgium], Dec 2: The European Union (EU) should start a discussion on whether mandatory vaccinations are needed in the fight against the ongoing surge in COVID-19 cases, especially since a third of the EU population had not yet taken the jab, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said here on Wednesday.
Acknowledging that such a decision was "pure member state competence," she noted that around 150 million people in the EU had not taken the jab.
"I think it is understandable and appropriate to lead this discussion now -- how we can encourage and potentially think about mandatory vaccination within the EU," she said during a news conference.
"We have the vaccines, the life-saving vaccines, but they are not being used adequately everywhere," she said.
Von der Leyen also said that the EU's main COVID-19 vaccine provider, BioNTech/Pfizer, would have shots available for children in the bloc in two weeks.
The Commission president said there was not enough information on the new COVID-19 variant, Omicron, which the World Health Organization said poses a high risk.
"We do not know all about this variant but know enough to be concerned," she said. "We know from our experience with the Delta variant that it is a race against time. Till we know more, in two to three weeks, we need to take action. Our best scientists are working day and night. What science tells us already is that full vaccination and boosters give protection against the virus."