The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) on Thursday ruled that mandatory vaccinations for kids are legal and necessary in a democratic society.
Vaccines are “one of the most successful and cost-effective health interventions” we have, wrote the court.
The ECHR’s 16-1 ruling rejects two major arguments:
1) That mandatory vaccinations violate a family’s right to private life.
2) That mandatory vaccinations violate citizens’ right to religious freedom.
The case was brought by Czech man Pavel Vavricka and other families who had been fined or whose children have been denied entry to preschools or nurseries for failing to comply with vaccination requirements.
The Czech Republic requires preschool-aged children to be vaccinated against nine diseases including tetanus, hepatitis B, polio, diphtheria, whooping cough, and measles.
These measures “could be regarded as being necessary in a democratic society,” wrote the court. “The objective has to be that every child is protected against serious disease, through vaccination or by virtue of herd immunity.”
Though Vavricka’s case was filed years ago, its outcome is likely to affect the course of the coronavirus pandemic in Europe.
The ruling “reinforces the possibility of a compulsory vaccination under conditions of the current COVID-19 epidemic,” says legal expert Nicolas Hervieu.