European court affirms Czech mandate requiring preschool vaccinations

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April 8 (UPI) — Europe’s top human rights court on Thursday upheld an order in the Czech Republic that says all children must receive the typical vaccinations before they can attend preschool.

The case was brought before the European Court of Human Rights by Czech families who were fined by the government for failing to inoculate their children against a number of avoidable childhood illnesses, or whose children were denied entry to schools.

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The legal challenge was filed before the COVID-19 pandemic and initially concerned other vaccinations for illnesses like pertussis, polio and measles, mumps and rubella (MMR).

The court on Thursday upheld the order by a vote of 16 to 1.

“The judgment emphasizes that in all decisions concerning children, their best interests must be of paramount importance,” the court wrote.

“With regard to immunization, the objective has to be that every child is protected against serious diseases, through vaccination or by virtue of herd immunity. The Czech health policy could therefore be said to be consistent with the best interests of the children who were its focus.”

The court noted that the Czech government pursued a legitimate health concern by mandating the vaccinations.

“In the Czech Republic, there is a general legal duty to vaccinate children against nine diseases that are well known to medical science,” the ECHR added. “Compliance with the duty cannot be physically enforced. Parents who fail to comply, without good reason, can be fined.”