Tajikistan’s government announced Saturday that all adults will be required to get vaccinated against COVID-19, making it the first country in the world to announce such a sweeping mandate as it tries to contain a new outbreak of coronavirus.
A statement from the Republican Headquarters for Strengthening Anti-Epidemic Measures against COVID-19 announced the new requirement but provided few details. It’s unknown how the government plans to enforce the mandate.
“According to the decision [of the commission], vaccination against coronavirus is mandatory for citizens over 18 years of age,” the brief statement said. “People who have not been vaccinated against coronavirus infection should consult a family doctor or local health facility.”
The announcement comes less than two weeks after the government confirmed a new outbreak in the Asian country, which has a population of more than 9.5 million people. It borders Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and China.
Since the outbreak was confirmed on June 21, the health ministry has reported more than 260 cases, including 21 cases on Saturday alone, raising the country’s total since the pandemic began to 13,569. No new cases had been reported for a period of more than five months.
Tajikistan’s vaccination campaign lags behind many other countries, but the government’s efforts have increased in recent weeks. More than 280,000 people are at least partially vaccinated against COVID-19, which represents 2.9% of the population, according to the health ministry. Nearly 18,600 people (0.19%) are fully vaccinated.
While Tajikistan is the first to announce mandatory vaccination for all of its citizens, other countries are requiring the vaccine to work in certain fields or to visit high-risk places. Earlier this week, Abu Dhabi in the UAE announced that unvaccinated people will be banned from most public places.