Interview: Constitutional lawyer Degenhart: “Consider a general vaccination obligation to be mandatory”
Berlin The Leipzig constitutional lawyer Christoph Degenhart welcomed the demands of several federal states for a general vaccination requirement. “In view of the development of the past few weeks, the development of the fourth wave and the behavior of the vaccine opponents, I consider a general vaccination obligation under the given conditions to be proportionate,” Degenhart told the Handelsblatt.
The job-related compulsory vaccination, which the federal and state governments agreed on at their corona summit last Thursday, could only be the “first step”. “However, this also raises questions that make the measure vulnerable,” said Degenhart. Older people would not only come into contact with medical staff in their everyday lives, but also with salespeople or passengers in local public transport. “In the interests of equal treatment and effectiveness, I therefore consider a general vaccination requirement to be mandatory,” said the constitutional lawyer.
However, he considers it unconstitutional to enforce the measure with physical force. Children should not be subject to compulsory vaccination for the time being, if the vaccination for people aged five and over is approved in the coming weeks.
Read the whole interview here:
Mr. Degenhart, do you consider a general compulsory vaccination to be proportionate?
At first I wasn’t sure whether a general vaccination requirement would be constitutional, especially proportionately. In view of the development of the past few weeks, the development of the fourth wave and the behavior of the vaccine opponents, I consider a general vaccination obligation under the given conditions to be proportionate.
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Critics point out that the general compulsory vaccination is not compatible with fundamental rights and freedoms.
The encroachment on fundamental rights is justified if it is proportionate and the purpose cannot be achieved by milder means. Obviously, these milder remedies have not proven effective. Now the low vaccination rate means such a drastic risk that I consider the procedure to be proportionate. A general vaccination requirement is also more proportionate than a total lockdown, which would be the alternative. It really has to be the last resort.
The federal and state governments have at least made a job-related vaccination obligation, which the traffic light must now implement. Is not that enough?
The job-related vaccination requirement is a sensible first step. However, this also raises questions that make the measure vulnerable. The focus on medical professions may seem obvious at first glance, in order to protect older and vulnerable people in particular. But where do you draw the line? Older people not only come into contact with medical staff in their everyday lives, but also with salespeople or passengers in local public transport. In the interests of equal treatment and effectiveness, I therefore consider a general vaccination requirement to be mandatory.
Critics of the general compulsory vaccination also point out that the measure is difficult to control.
To enforce the general compulsory vaccination with physical coercion would be unconstitutional. Coercion by the police, such as a blood test from drivers, would be too much of an encroachment on personal data. However, those who do not adhere to the mandatory vaccination must experience disadvantages. Take the simple case of a teacher or nurse who absolutely refuses to be vaccinated. If he is required to be vaccinated, he is no longer allowed to practice his profession. The same is true in other industries. A compulsory vaccination would simply create legal certainty as to the status of the unvaccinated.
Should the vaccination also apply to children as soon as the vaccine is approved and recommended by Stiko from the age of five?
That is a difficult question. On the one hand, there is already a compulsory vaccination for children, namely measles. They are not allowed to go to daycare without vaccination. But I am not sure whether there is already enough reliable knowledge about the effects on children. In this respect, I advocate implementing the general compulsory vaccination only for adults who are responsible for themselves.
How could the general compulsory vaccination be implemented legally?
The Bundestag would have to regulate this by law, for example by amending the Infection Protection Act. This would have to be done in the short term. I think it is important that we have the debate now. Because it takes not only for the measure to be implemented, but also for it to take effect.
More: Is compulsory vaccination legally permissible?