In France, far-reaching measures regarding vaccination will come into effect from August 2021. The decision sparked protests across France. However, at the same time, a record number of French people signed up for vaccinations. André den Exter, Associate Professor of Health Law at Erasmus School of Law, acknowledges to the Reformatorisch Dagblad that the French vaccination policy is very drastic. According to him, the curtailments of personality rights are allowed.
From August, the French will need a health pass for almost all public spaces and facilities, such as public transport and shopping centres. This health pass is granted after vaccination or a negative test certificate of a maximum of 48 hours old. This test must be done at the expense of the unvaccinated. The intention is to boost the low vaccination rate in France to the desired level of 80 to 90 per cent, but does the end justify the means? Furthermore, is this drastic restriction on freedom even legally valid?
In a recent opinion piece, Den Exter explains that compulsory vaccination is permitted, despite the curtailment of personality rights, such as self-determination, beliefs and personal integrity. The government has a lot of room to protect public health. However, there are a few conditions: "Such a step must be necessary and proportionate to the goal. Only after the government has used all less intrusive means, can such a thing be used," said Den Exter in the Reformatorisch Dagblad.
From a health law perspective, Den Exter also sees how far-reaching the French decision is: "The key point of medical treatment – which is what you talk about when vaccinating – is the patient's consent. Something like mandatory vaccination goes against that. That is why no one is in favour of it. It is the last resort."