Rising COVID cases spark debate about compulsory vaccination in Germany
With the COVID infection rate in Germany rising rapidly, a debate is raging over the topic of compulsory vaccinations. Although the federal government previously ruled this measure out, an increasing number of politicians are saying that it needs to be considered.
More politicians come out in favour of compulsory vaccination
The debate around a general vaccination is gaining momentum as Germany hit another record high COVID incidence rate on Monday. SPD health expert Karl Lauterbach said on Sunday that the measure had to remain on the table as a possibility. “I would definitely not rule it out anymore,” he told Bild. “This does not help us acutely, but [without it] we obviously won’t achieve the vaccination quota we need to make ends meet.”
In recent days, the idea has gradually gained headway among some circles. Both the state premier of Bavaria, Markus Söder, and the Bavarian health minister, Klaus Holetschek, recently spoke out in favour of compulsory vaccination, with the latter stating that it was the only way to “get out of this endless loop.” “I was actually always opposed to mandatory vaccinations,” he told Deutschlandfunk. “But I now believe… that we have to talk about this topic relatively quickly.”
The President of the Child Protection Association, Heinz Hilgers, also said he was in favour of compulsory vaccination for adults if the vaccination rate does not increase significantly by spring. “That would protect children,” he told the RND.
German government previously ruled out mandatory COVID jabs
However, as Lauterbach has conceded, compulsory vaccination would be a potentially problematic move, given the fact that the government last year repeatedly insisted that compulsory vaccination was not an option.
Other leading figures are also sounding a similar note of caution regarding making vaccines mandatory. Lothar Wieler, head of the Robert Koch Institute, told ZDF that the idea could remain on the table as a “last resort.” He said that nobody wanted to make COVID vaccines compulsory, but “if you’ve tried everything else, the WHO says you have to think about [it].”
However, the FDP, one of the partners of the traffic light coalition partners likely to form Germany’s next government, is standing firm. “We consider them unconstitutional,” said deputy group leader Michael Theurer.
The CDU / CSU union is also sceptical. Thorsten Frei, group leader in the Bundestag, said that compulsory vaccination represented a “serious interference with the right to physical integrity.” He told Welt he considered the measure “disproportionate and thus unconstitutional.”
Tobias Hans, state premier of Saarland, said he believed the compulsory vaccination discussion was the wrong debate at the wrong time. He said not enough had been done to convince the population that vaccinations were the right way to go, and that to enforce mandatory jabs would only serve to further polarise society and even provoke unrest.
COVID vaccines to be mandatory for nursing staff
Federal Labour Minister Hubertus Heil, the government is currently examining how compulsory vaccinations can be implemented in certain areas in a legally secure manner. “And then a debate will go on,” he told ARD.
The President of the German Nursing Council, Christine Vogler, called for a clear legal requirement in the event of a mandatory vaccination in nursing homes, so that “nursing facilities may dismiss unvaccinated employees.” She told RND, “Anyone who becomes a gateway for corona in the nursing home simply cannot work there.”