German Ethics Council in favour of mandatory COVID vaccines for all

German Ethics Council in favour of mandatory COVID vaccines for all

Calls to make vaccinations against COVID-19 mandatory are growing louder and louder in Germany. The Ethics Council has now said it is in favour of a general vaccination requirement for all adults - but only under certain conditions. 

Ethics Council supports general vaccine mandate in Germany

Up until now, Germany has only made COVID-19 vaccinations compulsory in certain workplace settings, including GP surgeries, hospitals and nursing homes, but politicians had asked the Ethics Council for its opinion on a possible general vaccination requirement. 

Previously, the Ethics Council said there was a moral obligation to get vaccinated against coronavirus - to protect others - but had rejected the idea of making vaccinations mandatory. Now, however, the council has changed its position to state that compulsory vaccination is justified as a means of protection against the serious consequences of future pandemic waves. 

However, the council could not completely agree on exactly who the vaccine mandate should target. A narrow majority (13 out of 24 members) were in favour of expanding compulsory vaccination to all eligible adults in Germany, while 20 members were in favour of widening the existing mandate to cover all individuals vulnerable to COVID infection. 

Compulsory vaccines “not a panacea for the pandemic”

The Ethics Council also insisted that a vaccination mandate should not be used by politics as a cure-all for the pandemic: “Mandatory vaccination cannot break the wave in the fourth term,” the group said. “Similarly, mandatory vaccination cannot be a panacea for the pandemic; it can only be considered as part of a comprehensive, evidence-based, differentiated and forward-looking overall pandemic strategy.” 

The council emphasised that compulsory vaccination could only be expanded if it was supplemented with a range of measures to boost vaccine take up, including more infrastructure to administer jabs across the country via easily accessible services. As far as possible, the council said, people should freely choose to get the jab. It expressly rejected the use of physical force. It also recommended that Germany introduce a national vaccination register in order to facilitate implementation. 

Germany’s vaccination campaign criticised as lacking

The previous federal government came in for criticism in the Ethics Council’s declaration. The group rated Germany’s vaccination campaign to date poorly, stating that everything from logistics and outreach to quick adjustments “lagged far behind what is possible.” The group was of the opinion that, had these issues been adequately addressed, the vaccination rate would be much higher than it is now. 

Despite this criticism, the support of the Ethics Council is important for Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who at the end of November spoke out in favour of a vaccine mandate for all adults in Germany. Scholz has already agreed with the federal states that the matter should be voted on in the Bundestag next year. It is expected that it could come into effect as soon as February or March 2022. 



Abi Carter

Abi studied History & German at the University of Manchester. She has since worked as a writer, editor and content marketeer, but still has a soft spot for museums, castles...

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