Mandatory vaccination is not going to happen in the republic

Compulsory COVID-19 vaccination is the issue that refuses to go away.

According to the minutes of its meeting in mid-December, it is under consideration by the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet). Nphet will discuss the issue “at a later date” in conjunction with a paper from the Department of Health on the ethical and legal considerations included in these notes.

Across Europe, this issue is a hot topic. In Italy, people over 50 are obliged to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Austria is planning to introduce compulsory vaccination for all citizens from April. A belligerent French president, Emmanuel Macron, says he wants to “urinate” unvaccinated people.

This trend reflects a growing frustration among some policymakers that overburdened health systems are having to dedicate themselves to treating unvaccinated patients. In countries historically disposed to compulsory vaccination schemes, this has resulted in harsh proposals.

Ireland, however, has different traditions, is in a different position and is unlikely to follow these examples.

The wording used in the Nphet minutes of 16 December about compulsory vaccination is the same as used at their meeting last month, and was reported by The Irish Times at the time.

The same wording also appears in the minutes of a meeting on 2 December, where members “voiced the need to exercise caution regarding compulsory vaccination”, noting its potential impact on social solidarity.

So while this issue is still under consideration, it is not being given priority. Agenda items have been moved from meeting to meeting, probably because officials were more immediately preoccupied with the increase in cases.