Updated Nov 19, 2021 - Health

World gets tough on the unvaccinated

A photo of a sign in German discussing vaccination at a clinic
People wait at the registration desk for a vaccination appointment in Dresden, Germany. Photo: Sebastian Kahnert/dpa-Zentralbild/dpa via Getty Images

Public officials around the world are imposing new restrictions on the unvaccinated as many nations struggle to raise their COVID-19 vaccination rates.

Why it matters: Unvaccinated people are five times more likely than those vaccinated to get infected and 10 times more likely to die from the coronavirus, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Many health care systems are buckling under new waves in cases among the unvaccinated.

Driving the news: German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced Thursday that access to public, cultural, sports events and restaurants would be restricted to people who've been vaccinated or who have recovered in places where hospitalization rates exceed a certain threshold.

  • Some German states had already barred people who are eligible for vaccination but choose not to get it from indoor venues like restaurants and clubs, according to France 24.

Greece's prime minister said that from Monday, unvaccinated people will be prohibited from entering indoor spaces, such as cinemas, theaters museums and gyms — even if they test negative for the virus.

Austria's chancellor imposed a "lockdown for unvaccinated people" age 12 and older, per DW. It's designed to lift the vaccination rate, which has stalled at 65%. From Monday, unvaccinated Austrians can only leave home for work, medical reasons or to get groceries under the order.

The Singaporean government announced earlier this month that it will stop covering medical bills for people who are "unvaccinated by choice" after Dec. 8.

New Zealand's government will impose a business vaccine mandate that affects 40% of its workforce. Businesses including hair salons, bars, and gyms must ensure all staff are vaccinated in order to operate under the upcoming order.

In Australia, the state of New South Wales announced unvaccinated people over the age of 16 are no longer allowed to visit another person’s residence, except in limited circumstances. 

The big picture: Roughly 40% of the world's population is fully vaccinated, per data from Johns Hopkins University.

Worth noting: The U.S. has faced censure from international experts and the World Health Organization for pursuing booster shots instead of distributing vaccines to lower-income countries.

Editor's note: This article has been updated to include details of announcements by the leaders of Germany, Greece, Austria and New Zealand.

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