German Ethics Council backs mandatory COVID vaccines
December 22, 2021
Lawmakers have so far only passed a mandate for certain health care workers. Now, a narrow majority of experts on Germany's leading ethical body has said it should be expanded to all adults, under certain conditions.
A narrow majority, 13 out of 24, were in favor of the expansion of the mandate to all vaccine-eligible adults living in Germany. A larger number, 20 members, were in favor of the widening of an already existing mandate — in areas where particularly vulnerable people are being cared for — to all vulnerable individuals.
However, the body said it rejected the use of physical force.
It emphasized that high vaccination rates are crucial to moving to a controlled endemic situation with the COVID-19 virus and that the situation seemed particularly pressing at present.
"Currently, the German health care system is reaching its limits in many places. Viral variants such as omicron and expected further variants of the virus are forcing experts to constantly reassess their estimates of the future course of the pandemic."
"Its extension can therefore only be justified if it is able to mitigate or prevent serious negative consequences of possible future pandemic waves, such as high mortality, long-term adverse health effects on significant parts of the population, or an imminent collapse of the health care system," the group said.
"Mandatory vaccination cannot break the current fourth wave in the short term. 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 Ethics Council said the expansion of mandatory vaccination must be flanked by a range of measures that would also improve vaccine takeup.