Prime minister Viktor Orbán – Photo: PMO

Orbán: Vaccination day to be held in all localities within 6 weeks

A vaccination day will be held in all Hungarian localities within the next six weeks, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán told public radio on Friday. In the interview, Orbán predicted that the number of people opting for a booster jab against Covid-19 would "skyrocket".

Some one million vaccines were administered by Thursday evening in the first two weeks of the campaign, he said. Around 800,000 were booster jabs, and 115,000 went to people who “for whatever reason” had not accepted the vaccine before, he said.

Hungarians are much safer thanks to the vaccine, he said. So far, 2.6 million people, or 27 percent of the population, have received a booster jab, compared with a European Union average of 10 percent, he said.

Given that the effectiveness of vaccinations declines after six months, the government will contact citizens in person, by email, text message or by post to ask them to get a booster.

Orbán praised doctors, nurses, police and soldiers, saying they had withstood the challenges, and Hungary’s health system was still standing despite the strains.

Commenting on the omicron variant, the prime minister the scientific community was as yet unclear as to its dangers or speed of transmission, but initial reactions of fear were likely to turn out to be greater than dangers posed by omicron. Still, he urged caution.

Meanwhile, on the subject of the government’s disputes with the EU, Orbán said Hungary would use the referendum on its amendment to the child protection law to strengthen its position against Brussels, adding that this strategy had worked “when Brussels almost got the better of us on the issue of migration”.

Thanks to the referendum on migration issues in 2016, “mandatory resettlement quotas were not introduced, and no migrants have been settled in Hungary since,” Orbán said.

“I don’t care what Brussels says about our child protection law, and I don’t want the Venice Commission interfering in how Hungarians raise their children,” he said.

Orbán said Hungary “had to use its own common sense” because “there’s craziness in Europe, a wave of disrespect for the sole right of parents to raise their children, including their sex education.”

The government can protect the country’s interests only if Hungarians support its efforts, he said.

The prime minister accused Brussels of “blackmailing Hungary” over the child protection law issue. He added that Hungary would win the dispute, and recovery funding would be forthcoming sooner or later. In the meantime, the government is pre-financing the relevant projects, he added.

He said a “war of nerves” was taking place between the government and the EU. “If we Hungarians persevere, we’ll win,” he added.

Orbán accused the EU of trying to intervene in the 2022 general election with a desire to stamp its mark on issues such as immigration, energy pricing and how children are raised. He said Brussels wanted a government in Hungary that says: “jawohl”.

Meanwhile, Orbán noted the government’s decision to give 33,000 small businesses and municipalities the chance to enter the government scheme that caps utility bills.

Noting that opposition-run Budapest and Hodmezovasarhely planned to join it, he said the government considered the interests of locals over and above whoever happened to be in charge of the municipality. The related costs would be borne largely by multinationals, he said, though the Hungarian energy company MVM would also have to bear losses.

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