US version of this question

What I am asking is if a country in the EU, following the rules of the EU could mandate vaccinations amongst their citizens? (the age of citizens might make a difference as some vaccines have not been widely tested on younger people, the specific vaccine might also make a difference in some cases).

  • 3
    I don't think is an EU-matter at all.
    – Arno
    Jun 7 at 18:15
  • @Arno I don’t understand what you mean by that. Do you mean the EU has no laws on this or something else? Jun 7 at 18:16
  • 3
    I think it might be more relevant to ask about the ECHR (to which EU countries are a party) rather than the EU itself. I don't think the EU has separate rules on this. A relevant resource here (could be the basis for an answer to the ECHR version of the question).
    – JJJ
    Jun 7 at 18:27


The EU is primarily concerned with regulating trade between EU members and between the EU and other countries. It doesn't have laws about vaccine mandates. It does have regulations on vaccines in veterinary use (since trade in animals is an important trade) and on the labelling of medical products.

There is a EU established European centre for disease prevention and control, which coordinates the response of member nations to communicable diseases. But it doesn't bar any specific measures, such as mandatory vaccinations.

So the EU is not about vaccine mandates. It is outside of the EU's competence.

There is the European Court of Human Rights, which is not an EU body. The resource that JJJ links in a comment states that:

Mandatory vaccination interferes with a person’s right to integrity protected under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). Nevertheless, the Court concluded such interference may be justified if considered a ‘necessity to control the spreading of infectious diseases.

This means that you can't be forced to vaccinate (citing article 8) but a country is entitled to treat you differently if you don't. You could have to pay a charge, or you could find that you are not permitted to enter certain places.

The court noted that any such measures would have to be "proportionate". This means that the country must justify that repressive legislation is necessary to achieve the aim of protecting the health of its people. But it noted that scientific matters, such as "is a vaccine safe and effective" is not a matter that the court is qualified to decide, but a question for scientists.

So following EU law the answer is "Yes". Following the decisions of the ECHR the answer is a qualified "...yes, but".

  • 2
    tip o the hat to @JJJ
    – James K
    Jun 7 at 18:53
  • +1, I’ll probably accept this in 22 hours unless a better answer comes in Jun 7 at 19:37
  • Are you sure that vaccinations cannot be forced, or would that have to be balanced against the public health necessity?
    – o.m.
    Jun 8 at 5:02
  • 1
    I'm a bit confused about this answer. The question is whether a country could mandate vaccinations following EU rule, and then you state it's out of the EU mandate (so, there would not be a rule to follow). You then refer to the ECHR and conclude This means that you can't be forced to vaccinate. Yet, the first line of the answer is "Yes".
    – Abigail
    Jun 8 at 12:54
  • @Abigail, the question could be read as "can countries do X, based on EU rules" or as "can countries do X, while following EU rules." When the issue is in national responsibility, yet impacted by general principles of EU/European law, the answers differ.
    – o.m.
    Jun 8 at 14:43

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