Could the Dutch government make Covid-19 vaccinations compulsory?

From 1 February 2022 onwards, vaccination against Covid-19 will be compulsory in Austria. André den Exter, Associate Professor of Health Law at Erasmus School of Law, discusses the legal grounds and possibilities for this kind of obligation in the Netherlands at RTL Z. Den Exter also explains what the impact of such an obligation could be. 

Before the implementation of compulsory vaccinations can even be discussed, it must be absolutely clear that it is not possible to implement other less invasive measures: “voluntary vaccination should be tried first, and if all other measures are not effective, only then (as a last resort) member states could proceed to implement compulsory vaccinations”, says Den Exter. He stresses that all measures are implemented to combat the pressure on our healthcare system. 

Step by step 

Den Exter does not expect compulsory vaccination to make an appearance in the Netherlands anytime soon, as the implementation of the 2G measure is currently being discussed. Austria already implemented the 2G measure. The Health Law Expert of Erasmus University Rotterdam points out the differences between the Netherlands and Austria: “the situation in Austria is not the same, because their vaccination coverage is much lower. Therefore, the urgency is way bigger there. In the Netherlands, we must first try other measures before an obligation is even on the table.” 

No compulsory vaccination 

Furthermore, Den Exter stresses that compulsory vaccination is not the same as forced vaccination: “you will not be held down by four nurses and administered a vaccination by force.” In the case of compulsory vaccination, you will risk a fine when you decide not to get", according to Den Exter. 

Den Exter cannot say whether vaccination will become obligatory in the Netherlands, because that is a political question. He does think that there are legal grounds for such a measure, but under certain conditions: “it all depends on the vaccination coverage, the pressure on our healthcare system and the effectiveness of the current and existing measures.” 

Associate professor
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Watch the full RTL Z item here (in Dutch).  

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