Mandatory vaccination does not infringe on human rights in principle, CPR

The implementation of mandatory vaccination in principle does not encroach upon the human rights as long as the measure can be justified as proportional and necessary. This is confirmed at least partially by the ECHR and national case law, says an analysis of the mandatory vaccination policies and their compatibility with the human rights that was published by the Center for Policies and Reforms of Moldova (CPR), IPN reports.

According to the Center, the World Health Organization defines “mandatory vaccination” as “particular measures to stimulate immunization by introducing restrictions if the people refuse it”. In most of the cases, such measures include exceptions, such as medical contraindications. Some of the states accept also religious objections or objections based on conscience. In other words, when they speak about mandatory vaccination, this does necessarily mean that the people are forced to get vaccinated or are obliged to do it with the risk of being penalized. It is rather meant that the person will incur the cost of the refusal to get a vaccine, like having partial liberties restrained.

Another aspect covered by the analysis is the mandatory vaccination of children. Even if the WHO pleads not for mandatory vaccination, but for information and awareness-raising campaigns, many countries introduced the mandatory immunization of children against measles, mumps and rubella, for example, setting precedents for compulsory vaccination.

In the world, there are models of mandatory vaccination or testing for COVID-19. Some of the states introduced compulsory vaccination for all visitors (Malta), for workers who interact with the public (Moscow, Russia), for all workers (Italy), for all the salary earners using the transit transport (Saudi Arabia), while Turkmenistan announced the mandatory vaccination for the entire population.

In a case tried in April 2021 – Vavřička and others v. the Czech Republic – the ECHR decided that the mandatory vaccination of children in the Czech Republic does not go against Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which is the right to respect for private and family life, and, even if it is a limitation on human rights, it is justified.

The study analyzes the ethical reasons in the case of implementation of mandatory vaccination policies and recommends the state to lay greater emphasis on the effort to increase the people’s confidence in the vaccine, which is a precondition of an ethical vaccination policy. The vaccination policies can be prioritized based on the human rights standards and ethical criteria, such as mandatory vaccination for particular categories of people and setting out of clear exceptions and justifiable penalties.

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