In a landmark decision delivered today, 8th April 2021, the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has upheld mandatory vaccination as “necessary in a democratic society.”The much anticipated decision in the case of Vavřička and Others v. the Czech Republic concerned the challenge of the Czech Republic’s mandatory vaccine requirement for children as being in breach of the right to a private life. The ECHR held that the programme was not in violation to Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.In the wake of the roll out of massive vaccination campaigns in most countries in the fight against COVID-19, the decision of the EHCR may have a major impact on the vaccination policies of European countries.
In Czech Republic, there is a statutory duty to vaccinate children against certain diseases. In the present case, the Applicants were unable to secure an admission to pre-school for their kids, given that the latter were not vaccinated.Before the Grand Chamber, the Applicants argued that the consequences of their non-compliance with the statutory duty of vaccination is incompatible with their right to respect for their private life.
Decisions of the Court
The Court agreed that compulsory vaccination, as an involuntary medical intervention, represented an interference with the right to respect for private life. However, it also noted that there was a legitimate aim of the interference in that the objective of the legislation was to protect against diseases which could pose a serious risk to health.More importantly, it went on to consider whether such an interference was necessary in a democratic society-