Germany’s mandatory vaccination debate – what are the eu countries doing??

Pandemic : germany’s mandatory vaccination debate – what are the EU countries doing??

Health Minister Karl Lauterbach speaks during the orientation debate on a SARS-CoV-2 vaccination requirement in the Bundestag

Brussels/berlin mandatory yes or no? The Bundestag debated this for hours. Health Minister lauterbach says: "we must act."In many other EU countries, the situation is viewed much more calmly.

By michel winde, dpa

Ursula von der leyen wanted a debate on mandatory corona vaccination – and got the debate. At least in germany. There, the Bundestag has just weighed the pros and cons of a general vaccination requirement.

But in many other EU countries – even with significantly lower vaccination rates – this discussion is not on the agenda. Are the opponents of compulsory vaccination right?? Is germany going down an unnecessary special path??

It was early december when EU commission president von der leyen intervened in the debate. A decision on compulsory vaccination is a matter for the EU countries. But it is appropriate to have this debate now. In germany, where leaders of all parties had long ruled out such a step, the wind was just turning. Rising case numbers, a new variant and an insufficient vaccination rate made some people think again.

Plan by scholz and lauterbach is in place

Even the then still designated chancellor olaf scholz changed his mind and held out the prospect of a general vaccination requirement by the beginning of march at the latest. The schedule is long outdated, but the goal of the chancellor and his health minister karl lauterbach (both SPD) stands. "if we push the problem away, the problem will come back in full force," lauterbach said in the german Bundestag. And: "we must act."

If it were up to the vaccination rate and if germany were the yardstick, there would have to be legislative proposals for a general vaccination obligation on the table in a number of eu countries. In the federal republic, about 74 percent of citizens are basic immunized. Although this does not put germany ahead of the rest of the eu, many countries rank behind it with much lower figures. bulgaria brings up the rear with a rate of less than 30 percent. In romania, around 41 percent of citizens have basic vaccinations; in slovakia, around 49 percent have basic vaccinations. Croatia (54), poland (57), and slovenia (57) in ascending order.

With a general vaccination requirement, these rates would probably be driven up significantly. But in all these countries there is hardly any debate about it. In poland, there are discussions about making vaccination compulsory for medical personnel – but whether this will happen is questionable. In slovakia, compulsory vaccination is not politically enforceable. And even the head of government of vaccine laggard bulgaria, kiril petkov, always emphasizes that with him there will be no compulsory vaccination.

Vaccination opponents in many countries

Isabelle marchais researches health policy at the jacques delors institute in paris. She already pointed out in a contribution in december 2020 that in many EU countries there may be a great deal of vaccination skepticism.

Now, a good year later, marchais is following the situation with great interest. She, too, perceives that many governments are avoiding the issue – and for many reasons. Marchais refers, among other things, to legal uncertainties in the implementation of a mandatory vaccination, especially since the vaccines in the EU have only received conditional approval from the responsible EU authority up to now. This does not mean that they have not been meticulously tested and do not meet EU standards in areas such as safety, quality and effectiveness. But manufacturers must provide further data on their vaccines to the authority. In addition, there is a loud minority of vaccination opponents in many countries, says marchais. And then ethical questions arise with such an intrusion into the private sphere.

"governments are being very cautious," says marchais. There are also good arguments in favor of compulsory vaccination – for example, to protect vulnerable groups who cannot be vaccinated against covid-19 for medical reasons.

Regulations in EU countries

Some countries have therefore introduced age- or occupation-specific regulations. In italy and greece, vaccinations are mandatory for the elderly. In germany, employees in facilities with vulnerable people, such as clinics, will soon have to prove that they have been vaccinated or have recovered. Hungary, france and finland also have such regulations.

In countries such as portugal, spain, denmark or the netherlands, this is also not a matter of debate. In fact, denmark just announced that it will soon lift all corona measures. The country is much better off than germany when it comes to vaccination. The population over 60 is almost completely basic immunized. the situation is similar in portugal, ireland, malta and spain.

Only austria is on a similar path to germany: there, a general vaccination requirement from the age of 18 is to come soon.

Are Austria and Germany isolated with their plans in the EU?? Or will they become pioneers in the course of the pandemic?? Marchais thinks predictions are difficult. But if the corona situation deteriorates sharply again – for example with a new variant and exploding hospital admissions – she believes other states could follow suit. One thing is certain for marchais: "the other countries will follow developments in germany and austria closely."

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Christina Cherry
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