Mandatory COVID Vaccines and Human Rights: Questions and Answers

As COVID-19 cases surge in Europe more and more EU Member States are considering whether to introduce mandatory vaccination schemes, and the EU’s role in a coordinated scheme is now being discussed.

Here are some of the main questions, which have been subject to discussion amongst the public.

Are the recently proposed European COVID-19 mandatory vaccination schemes justified?

The EU is not in a position to take a stand on individual regimes. This is because we lack the necessary medical and epidemiological expertise to weigh up whether this measure is necessary and proportionate.

What can be a legitimate aim for a mandatory vaccination regime?

A mandatory vaccination regime that aims at decreasing the chance that individuals fall sick in such great numbers that they render the healthcare system unable to function may be, under certain circumstances, justified.

When can a vaccine mandate be considered appropriate?

This means that the measure has to be capable of achieving the legitimate aim. Vaccinations must, thus, be demonstrably efficient and safe.

Is it justified to make vaccinations mandatory for members of specific groups only, and not for all? Isn’t that discriminatory?

If a government can show that it’s vital to performing a certain job that an individual be vaccinated in order to protect public health, then making that a condition of employment is justifiable.

As for an age-specific vaccine mandate, it may be justified in some areas, however, governments cannot be justified in prescribing vaccination for members of a certain age group solely to protect people belonging to that age group from the consequences of their own decision to not get vaccinated.

Should there be exemptions for people who cannot be vaccinated for health reasons?

Yes, mandatory vaccination in order to achieve herd immunity can be appropriate only if the vaccinations are such that there are enough people for whom it is safe to get vaccinated.

What should the EU do to better protect human rights and public health? What can a human rights organisation doing advocacy at EU level – like the Civil Liberties Union for Europe – do?

Unfortunately, the spread of disinformation, including on the vaccine, is part of a profitable business model for social media companies. The EU could stop this from happening by properly enforcing already existing rules and possibly drafting new legislation.

The Civil Liberties Union for Europe, together with EDRi and Access Now, recently issued a paper outlining the steps the EU should take to tackle disinformation.

For more information follow the link below:

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