An Iranian health ministry official say a coronavirus vaccine mandate will be enforced in the country in mid-October amid efforts by the government to fully reopen the economy now that vaccination rates have improved.
Outgoing deputy health minister Alireza Raeisi said on Saturday that in two to three weeks’ time Iranians should produce vaccination cards to access public services including those offered at places of gathering.
Raeisi, who also serves as the spokesman of Iran’s National Headquarters for Battling Coronavirus (NHBC), said that the vaccine mandate will cover all forms of transportation, including air travel.
The announcement came a day after a government website used for registering COVID vaccinations started offering “vaccine cards” to citizens who have been inoculated against the disease.
Making coronavirus vaccine compulsory comes as Iran is racing against the time to expand the coverage of its vaccination campaign to more people months after it got off to a very slow start.
Iranian President Ebrahim Raeisi who took office in early August has promised to reopen schools and businesses in the very near future.
“Technology-based restrictions will gradually replace closures,” Raeisi said during a Saturday meeting of the NHBC.
He said that his government was even ready to introduce coronavirus jabs for children below 12 pending a final decision by scientists.
Data published earlier in the day showed that the number of coronavirus vaccinations had exceeded 56 million with over 16.5 million people fully vaccinated against the disease.
Accelerated vaccinations in Iran have caused death and infection rates to decline from record highs seen in August. Health ministry figures said that daily death toll from the virus had dropped to 217 from a total number of 10,135 infections registered since midday on Friday.