MADRID – It will not have escaped anyone’s attention that the vaccination campaign has advantages. But it also causes a division in society. When asked about compulsory vaccination, almost 48% of Spaniards indicate that people may be forced to be vaccinated.
This is according to the September Barometer of the Spanish Center for Sociological Research (CIS). This also shows that resistance to mandatory vaccination increases as the age of the respondents decreases. To be precise, 46.7% of all respondents answered “Yes” to the question. “Should everyone, including those who do not want to, be vaccinated?”
A quarter is against mandatory vaccination
More than a quarter (25.4%) believe that no one should be forced to vaccinate. 21.8% think that this should be looked at on a case-by-case basis and 4.8% do not have a strong opinion. The percentage of proponents increases significantly when it comes to certain professions for whom vaccination should be mandatory. No fewer than 81.5% consider it inevitable that healthcare staff, nursing home employees, and all other people with contact professions must be vaccinated.
If the same question is asked only to the group of respondents who are against a general vaccination obligation, 64.5% answered that vaccination should be mandatory for these professional groups.
High vaccination rate
Compared to the European average (60%), the current vaccination rate (fully vaccinated) in Spain is high at 75%. Sociologist Josep Lobera of the Autonomous University of Madrid has a historical explanation for this. During the Franco dictatorship many Spanish children still suffered from polio. Whereas, north of the Pyrenees all children were already vaccinated against this disease. “This lagging behind other countries and the importance of public health are still fresh in the minds of the older generation,” says Lobera.
This is also reflected in the results of the CIS survey: 63.3% of the respondents older than 65 are in favour of forced vaccination. However, 12.8% of this age group are against it. Most opponents (38.6%) are in the 25 to 34 age group; in the category 18 to 24 years, this is 36.7%. In general, women are slightly more likely to speak out in favour of vaccination than men (48.5% versus 46.8%). 22.9% of women do not want to be vaccinated, compared to 28.1% for men.
Looking at education level, the less educated (80.4%) more often opt for forced vaccination than the highly educated. As the level of education rises, so does the resistance to compulsory vaccination. 56.5% of respondents with only a high school diploma are in favor of compulsory vaccination versus 39.8% of respondents with a completed vocational or academic education.
There is also a slight difference between townspeople and villagers. 52.4% of respondents living in villages with less than 2000 inhabitants are in favor of compulsory vaccination versus 44% of residents of large cities such as Barcelona and Madrid.
Corona pass for catering and culture
21 of 27 EU member states, including the Netherlands and Belgium, have made a corona pass mandatory for access to catering, concerts, and other public places. In Spain, several regional authorities have tried to do this, but all applications have so far been rejected by the courts. Only Galicia’s request was approved, but the measure has not yet entered into force and will only apply to the areas with the highest infection rates.
Can employers in Spain require vaccination?
Italy is so far the first and only country where employers are allowed to ask their employees for a Covid passport. Refusal to show this passport can result in a fine of between €400 and €1000 and withholding of the salary. However, employees without a corona pass may not be fired. Italy has been able to do so because the state of emergency has been extended until December 31.
The opinions of experts in Spain are divided on this. On the one hand, reference is made to Article 14 of the Constitution. This states that no one may be discriminated against on the basis of skin colour, origin, sex, religion, or any other personal or social circumstance. Whereas, on the other hand, Article 43 includes the right to physical integrity and personal freedom, and intimacy. On the basis of the latter article, everyone has the right to health protection that the governments must ensure.
To follow the example of Italy, the question, therefore, arises whether the public interest may be placed above the individual interest. For the time being, employers in Spain are not allowed to require their employees to show a valid Covid passport. A general vaccination obligation is also not obvious for the time being. Should the government wish to do so, a new general state of emergency will first have to be declared. Ultimately, however, the Spanish Supreme Court will make a decision.