Gergely Gulyás, Head of the Prime Minister's Office, said the humanitarian impact of the “unfortunate pull-out” of international forces from Afghanistan, as well as developments at the Belarus-Poland border, are elements of a migration crisis facing the bloc.
“It is important that Poland receives all assistance that Hungary was denied in 2015, when it started protecting the EU’s southern borders," Gulyás said. The EU must reimburse countries protecting its external borders, Gulyás insisted. Hungary requested a reimbursement of HUF 580 billion, but has not yet received a response from the European Commission, he noted. The minister called protection of the EU’s borders a “patriotic duty”, adding that the government would ensure that the necessary resources are in place. The interior ministry is planning to reinforce border controls and recruit volunteers, who would be deployed after a fast-track course, he added. Gulyás also noted that the number of illegal entry attempts had shot up, from a daily 350 in 2020 to more than 1,000 at present.
In regard to Covid, Gulyás noted that the level of antibodies begins to wane six months after a second shot of a Covid vaccine, and may drop drastically after 7-8 months, which is why the government advises Hungarians to get a booster jab. The fourth wave of the pandemic is different from previous waves because “this time we have a weapon to fight the virus in the form of vaccination,” Gulyás said. One in 100 people inoculated against Covid gets ill, but with much milder symptoms than those who have not received any shots at all, he said.
Gulyás advised Hungarians to get a third jab, citing a study released by Pfizer last week which said that the vaccine starts losing its effect after six months. “Anyone who has been vaccinated is still in a better position after the eighth and the ninth month than one who has not received a jab,” he added. The government is launching a week-long nationwide vaccination drive on Nov. 22, with 101 vaccination points administering a first, or a second or a booster shot without preliminary registration, Gulyás said. “It is particularly important that a substantially high number of people get a booster jab with a focus on immunocompromised people in the older age group,” Gulyás said. In terms of health services, Gulyás said Hungary has sufficient resources and supplies available, adding that “no disruption or emergency is expected to emerge”.
Gulyás said the government has no plans to make vaccination mandatory, but would leave the option of ordering workers to get inoculated open to employers. But state employees who come into contact with a great number of people should certainly get vaccinated, he said, noting that this is why staff working in regional government administration offices overseen by the Prime Minister’s Office are required to get vaccinated by no later than Dec. 15. Staff working in positions where they meet a fewer number of clients on a daily basis are required to receive a first jab by no later than Jan. 31, he said.
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