European Court of Human Rights: Mandatory vaccinations are allowed

In the Vavricka case in April 2021, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled that compulsory vaccination of children when they are admitted to daycare centers does not violate the right to private life. André den Exter, Associate Professor of Health Law at Erasmus School of Law, explains why this ruling is also relevant for the Covid-19 vaccination in the Nederlands Dagblad.

In the Vavricka case, a parent is suing the vaccination obligation that is currently in place for children to gain access to daycare centers in the Czech Republic. According to the defendant, mandatory vaccination is contrary to the right to private life. The Court did not agree. “The vaccination obligation and the exclusion [of unvaccinated individuals] have a direct basis in a law approved by parliament and are therefore legitimized,” according to Den Exter. A vaccination obligation is an infringement of personality rights, but this infringement is justified by the protection of (the rights of) others and public health. According to the Court, this infringement is necessary and proportional in relation to the objective: the protection of public health.

Statutory vaccination is not the same as compulsory vaccination

“Statutory vaccination is not vaccination under duress”, says den Exter in the Nederlands Dagblad. “This means that people are not literally forced to be vaccinated, but it does mean that non-compliance with mandatory vaccination is considered a criminal offense that can be sanctioned”.

No surprise

Den Exter: “For insiders, the ruling and the argumentation followed by the court is not surprising. In previous case law, the Court has recognized the broad freedom of policy in the field of health issues. There is nothing to prevent the Dutch government from opting for mandatory Covid-19 vaccination in the future, provided this is necessary and proportionate in light of the threat to public health."

 

Associate professor
More information

Click here for the entire article in the Nederlands Dagblad (in Dutch).