Mandatory coronavirus vaccination is not something the Government would “ever look at” bringing in, Health Secretary Sajid Javid has said.
His comments came as demonstrators took to the streets across Europe protesting against tighter restrictions amid a surge in infections.
Austria has announced plans to make jabs compulsory as the country deals with a lower vaccine uptake.
Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, he said: “It is up to Austria, other countries, to decide what they need to do. We are fortunate that in this country, although we have vaccine hesitancy, it is a lot lower than we are seeing in other places.”
He added: “I just think on a practical level, taking a vaccine should be a positive choice. It should be something, if people are a bit reluctant, we should work with them and encourage them.
“In terms of mandatory vaccines for the general population I don’t think that is something we would ever look at.”
In England, the deadline for care home workers to be fully vaccinated was November 11.
Meanwhile, Mr Javid said the current focus of the vaccine programme is boosters – which have been extended to people aged 40 and above – and second jabs for 16 and 17-year-olds.
He said the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) is looking at the possibility of boosters for all adults, a consideration included as part of an update given last week.
It stated: “Future considerations include the need for booster vaccination (third dose) for 18 to 39-year-olds who are not in an at-risk group, and whether additional booster vaccination (fourth dose) for more vulnerable adult groups may be required.”