When is it acceptable to violate someone's physical integrity? That is the question that is now affecting society as the issue of mandatory vaccination gets into full swing. Health lawyer André den Exter of the Erasmus School of Law talks about this in Studio Erasmus.
“You're not physically forced to be vaccinated, that's an important difference”
"If you talk about being forced legally, then you would hold someone against their will and then vaccinate them. That is force. That is not the issue now," Den Exter says. He explains that if someone is not allowed to enter a restaurant or gym without a QR code, this can feel like force. In this case, people have the choice to be vaccinated or not.
According to Den Exter, the vaccination discussion is mainly about: is there a legal basis? And is someone who does not get vaccinated a danger to society? He doesn't think this is the case at the moment, but it could be in the future. Still, he likes to focus on the alternatives: "One should always start from the least radical alternative. Think of isolation, quarantine, and mouth masks. As long as these options are available, there is no issue of compulsory vaccination. Den Exter believes that, if code black is an issue, mandatory vaccination could be considered for certain groups and categories, such as healthcare workers and the fire service.
"Many people think mainly of 'me, me, me' and: 'It's my body, my decision"
Collective health interest
Den Exter believes that people in the Netherlands think too much about themselves: "Physical integrity is a given and very important. But there may be circumstances in which the public interest, and above all the collective health interest, justify making a breach. This also shows that we are not concerned with the collective health interest at all.