MADRID – Spain is one of the countries with the highest willingness to vaccinate. But, as yet, mandatory vaccination has not been discussed. However, the number of infections in nursing homes is rising sharply, and action must be taken.
That is the view of the central government and autonomous regions. Because in the past two weeks the number of new infections in socio-medical institutions in Spain has increased eightfold. At least five regions want to put a stop to this unfavourable development. But this would mean making vaccination mandatory for all healthcare professionals who come into contact with vulnerable people.
So far, the Ministry of Health has expressly opposed mandatory vaccination. However, now also sees the need for such a drastic measure. Therefore, discussions are now underway on what measures can be taken to guarantee the safety of vulnerable people. One such option would be to require unvaccinated health care workers to be tested twice a week. Another option could be for these employees to be given a different position, where they no longer come into contact with vulnerable people.
Galicia biggest proponent of compulsory vaccination
The region of Galicia is the most vocal proponent of compulsory vaccination for healthcare workers. A proposal to introduce this measure in its own region was rejected by the judge. Regional president Núñez Feijóo said general public health is more important than individual freedom of choice when it comes to vaccination. Likewise, Galicia, Andalucia, Murcia, the Canary Islands, Cantabria and the provincial administration of Álava (Basque Country) also want to oblige healthcare staff to be vaccinated. In the province of Álava, between 5-6% of healthcare workers have refused vaccination against Covid-19.
The district administrations of Catalonia, Castile-La Mancha, and the Basque Country have expressly spoken out against compulsory vaccination for healthcare workers.
Vaccination obligation in Italy and France
In Italy, a bill was passed in April making vaccination mandatory for all doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals. The sanction for refusal of the vaccine consists of dismissal and termination of salary. The same happened recently in France, where vaccination is now mandatory for healthcare workers. Furthermore, it is also compulsory for employees of emergency services such as the fire brigade. People in these professions have until September 15 in France to be vaccinated.
Last week, the General Council of Medical Professional Associations started a promotion campaign for vaccination among healthcare staff together with the Minister of Health. Both are of the opinion vaccine refusers in healthcare should be moved from vulnerable people and put to work elsewhere.
European Court allows vaccination obligation
The European Court of Human Rights states that mandatory vaccination is allowed in an epidemiological situation such as the current corona pandemic, because its public interest outweighs the freedom of choice and the minimal risks that vaccination entails.