Mandatory Vaccines for Czech Kids Approved by European Court

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The European Court of Human Rights backed Czech rules banning unvaccinated children from schools in a judgment that may have broader implications for the debate about mandatory jabs against Covid-19.

Judges decided by a vote of sixteen to one that excluding unvaccinated children was permissible as a “protective” measure for other classmates rather than a “punitive” one against the few not immunized.

“The objective has to be that every child is protected against serious diseases, through vaccination or by virtue of herd immunity,” the Strasbourg, France-based court said on Thursday. “The Czech health policy could therefore be said to be consistent with the best interests of the children who were its focus.”

Adolescent trials

The ruling could become political fodder as countries argue whether vaccination against the coronavirus should be mandated by law, and whether children should receive a jab. Drugmakers including Pfizer Inc. and Moderna are currently doing clinical trials in adolescents, as some doctors argue the pandemic can never fully be brought under control until kids are immunized.

The Czech government sees no connection or implications from the ruling for its coronavirus immunization strategy, since Covid-19 vaccination isn’t mandatory, said Health Ministry spokeswoman Barbora Peterova.

Four out of five families in Thursday’s appeal went to the ECHR after challenges to nursery school bans were rejected by Czech authorities. In the first case, a Czech citizen was fined for refusing to have his two teenage children vaccinated against polio, hepatitis B and tetanus.

The ECHR noted that France, Poland and Slovakia supported the Czech Republic’s more “prescriptive” approach to vaccination. Ultimately, however, it was not the court’s duty to judge whether the Czech policy was overly prescriptive but whether it broke human-rights rules.

It didn’t, the court ruled, and the government’s measures could be regarded as being “necessary in a democratic society.”

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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