MPs stopped discussion because of coronavirus vaccination. We don’t want it to be mandatory, hygienists say

Vaccination is a sensitive topic, Health Ministry admits.

Slovaks ages 35-39 have the alarmingly weakest immunity to measles.  Slovaks ages 35-39 have the alarmingly weakest immunity to measles. (Source: TASR)

The parliament adopted an amendment to the law on protecting, supporting and developing public health, which should eliminate inconsistencies related to the measures adopted by the Public Health Authority (ÚVZ) in the fight against the novel coronavirus.

It was passed on October 14 in a fast-track proceeding. Prior to this, however, the discussion about the changes was interrupted on October 13 as the parliamentary committees wanted to discuss the proposed changes. One of the sore points concerns vaccination against the coronavirus.

While the coalition parties said the amendment planned to introduce mandatory vaccination against the coronavirus, the hygienists say they only wanted to specify some terms. The mandatory vaccinations in some cases are already used today, they added.

The Health Ministry, which submitted the amendment, said it is ready to change the wording if necessary, to prevent wrong interpretations, the TASR newswire reported.

Vaccination during local epidemics

“There won’t be any mandatory vaccination against COVID-19,” the Sme Rodina party wrote on Facebook, with other coalition parties Freedom and Solidarity (SaS) and Za Ľudí expressing the same opinion.

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As they explained the amendment wants to give power to public health offices to order people to be obligatorily vaccinated, the Denník N daily reported.

Chief hygienist Ján Mikas responded that the changes should not introduce mandatory vaccination against the coronavirus, but only specify the term “prophylaxis” in the law.

“It means also vaccination in the case of local epidemics, like the measles in eastern Slovakia in the years 2018 and 2019,” he added, as quoted by the TASR newswire.

At the time, the regional Public Health Authority (ÚVZ) branches ordered vaccination in some localities in order to take control of the outbreak. The same measures are currently applied in the case of hepatitis A epidemics, Mikas explained.

Vaccination is a sensitive topic

The Health Ministry meanwhile admitted that vaccination is a very sensitive topic.

“This is why the decisions on adopting and ordering mandatory vaccination are made only based on the recommendation of experts and public discussion,” said the ministry spokesperson Zuzana Eliášová, as quoted by TASR.

The ministry repeated that the amendment should remove some inconsistencies in formal provisions that concern the measures adopted by the public health bodies. It should change and unify tools for securing the protection of public health. This includes the possibilities of the public health bodies to order a measure to prevent the outbreak and subsequent spread of transmissible diseases, which includes vaccination.

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