Germany and Slovakia consider compulsory vaccination


European Union


A woman walks past a vaccination center in Munich, amid a surge of infections during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Photo AFP, Christof Stache

More countries seem to be considering a general obligation to vaccinate within the European Union, following Austria's example. The discussion is in full swing in Germany, and the Prime Minister of Slovakia has also expressed his opinion in this direction.

In Germany, especially in the christian-democratic CDU/CSU, the voices in favour of compulsory vaccination are getting louder and louder, media such as the tagesschau report. Recently, several representatives had shown themselves open to compulsory vaccination, among them Schleswig-Holstein's Prime Minister Daniel Günther and Bavaria's Head of Government Markus Söder.

In the long run, only compulsory vaccination would help, said Söder in the Süddeutsche Zeitung. And in the long run, this is also the way to create social peace. A partial compulsory vaccination would create injustice. "I think we should have the debate now," Söder demanded. Mandatory vaccination would then have to come in time before the next wave.

Way out of the pandemic

Because of the sharply rising corona numbers, Bavaria's Health Minister Klaus Holetschek can also envisage a general vaccination obligation. "I was always actually an opponent of compulsory vaccination," he said on Deutschlandfunk. However, he now believes "that we have to talk about this issue relatively quickly." Compulsory vaccination would not help today or tomorrow, but it was the way out of the pandemic. "I am now in favour of mandatory vaccination as a last resort. It has to be discussed relatively quickly in Berlin - a nationwide solution is needed."

The social-democratic SPD parliamentary group wants to discuss the pros and cons of compulsory vaccination with scientists such as virologist Christian Drosten in an internal video conference. The SPD health expert Karl Lauterbach, for example, demanded that one should start thinking about compulsory vaccination. "I would no longer rule it out and tend to say: This does not help us acutely now, but we have to approach compulsory vaccination."

The health expert of the Greens in the Bundestag, Janosch Dahmen, also does not want to rule out the debate on a possible compulsory vaccination in Germany if the number of infections increases. If we want to get rid of this pandemic and do not come up with other measures to achieve a sufficient vaccination rate, "we will not be able to avoid this debate," he said in Morgenmagazin of broadcaster ARD. "In this respect, I think it is dishonest to rule it out in principle."


Meanwhile, Prime Minister Eduard Heger of Slovakia has also favoured compulsory vaccination, Euractiv writes. "For me, mandatory vaccination for people over 65 or 60 would be ideal. It depends on the experts. I think that even 50+ would make sense, but let us wait what the experts say," Heger said. He added that he was discussing such an option with constitutional lawyers.

The prime minister stated that he is negotiating with the coalition about the issue. However, he said such a move needs political courage, and the agreement will be difficult to reach. Three parties from the four-party coalition are against mandatory vaccination. Former prime minister Robert Fico and his Smer-Social Democracy already said they would oppose compulsory vaccination in the constitutional court.

Slovakia is facing the worst rate of new coronavirus cases per 1,000 people and a collapsing healthcare system. Hospitals struggle with staff shortages and no free beds equipped with ventilators, meaning doctors must decide whom to save. On top of that, 70 per cent of new positive patients being hospitalised are unvaccinated.



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