In the first case of its kind, the European Court of Human Rights has just ruled in favour of the Czech Republic’s requirement for mandatory preschool vaccinations. This is the court’s first judgment on compulsory childhood vaccination and found that there was no violation of the convention. The case had been brought to the court by Czech parents and children who had been fined or excluded from preschool for having not been vaccinated, which they considered to go against their right to respect for private life.
The Czech law requires that parents vaccinate their children unless it is not possible owing to health issues. The children cannot be forcibly vaccinated, and are not excluded from primary school, only preschool and nursery.
The court sided in favour of the Czech Republic as they agreed with the ‘General European consensus to achieve the highest possible degree of vaccination coverage.’ Their decision came down to social solidarity, and they considered that this compulsory policy was consistent with the best interests of the country as a whole. They believe that the fine that is currently in place isn’t excessive, and owing to only preschool children being excluded, that it isn’t detrimental to childhood development.
‘Vaccination protects both those who receive it and also those who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons and are therefore reliant on herd immunity for protection against serious contagious diseases.’European Court of Human Rights
The Czech Republic isn’t the only country to enforce childhood vaccinations with Italy fining parents €500 if they send their unvaccinated child to school. This law only affects children under the age of six. Since last year Germany has required parents to vaccinate their children with the MMR vaccine or face a fine of €2500 after a surge in cases of measles.
All of the cases which were brought before the court predated the pandemic, however, discussions around vaccinations have increased in the past couple of years.