“Debate on mandatory vaccination is a mock debate” | free press

Steffen Augsberg sees the call for mandatory vaccination as a mock debate – also in view of a possible obligation for nurses or teachers. Because the willingness to vaccinate is indeed there, says the constitutional lawyer of the University of Giessen – and there is therefore no basis for the obligation. Bernhard Walker spoke to Augsberg.

Steffen Augsberg sees the call for mandatory vaccination as a mock debate – also in view of a possible obligation for nurses or teachers. Because the willingness to vaccinate is indeed there, says the constitutional lawyer of the University of Giessen – and there is therefore no basis for the obligation. Bernhard Walker spoke to Augsberg.

Free press: How do you legally assess the mandatory vaccination against Covid-19?

Steffen Augsberg: This duty would be a huge violation of basic rights, which would only be conceivable if voluntary vaccination offers were not enough. But we are far from that.

As of today, only 50 percent have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

But there is still a great willingness to vaccinate. Therefore, the vaccination debate is, in a sense, a mock debate. Until now there has been a lack of offers and we now have to provide low-threshold vaccination options. Many who hesitate do not want to go to great lengths to get vaccinated. Whoever wonders: do I do it or do I not do it can be reached when the vaccination mobile is in front of the door or on the market square. We need more of these vaccinations in the meantime – also for the many students, for whom I have seen only a few tailor-made offers on campus so far.

Do you see it that way when it comes to specific professional groups, such as doctors, nurses or educators?

Yes. The legal obligation would also only be considered for these groups if there was clearly too little willingness to vaccinate. But in these professions the opposite is the case.

What do you think is behind the mock debate you’re talking about?

Worrying about the fall, I mean. That means: also before the fact that high case numbers place an enormous burden on the health care system. I don’t want to downplay this concern. It is only striking how difficult it is for those responsible – again! – falls in preparation for autumn – for example, when protecting schoolchildren. However, these tasks are indispensable and certainly cannot be replaced by not focusing on a mandatory vaccination, which only distracts from the hard work.

Now there is a kind of indirect mandatory vaccination around the corner. Chancellor Helge Braun only wants to allow vaccinated people – no longer tested – to major events.

That would not be a mandatory vaccination, but a legitimate distinction if negative tests are demonstrably less accurate than the vaccination. But so far, federal and state governments have largely equated testing and vaccinations.

But you can understand Minister Braun as if he now sees differences between those who have been tested and those who have been vaccinated when it comes to the risk of infection.

If he sees it this way and can prove it, there is a legal basis to allow vaccinated people more than tested people, without this being discriminatory. It is also logical that major events such as a stadium visit entail an increased risk. There is therefore also room for factual differentiation here. For example, a negative test may be sufficient for a visit to the hairdresser, but not for the big event.

You are a member of the German Ethics Council. Hence the question: Is there an ethical obligation to get vaccinated?

Society can expect solidarity, there is no doubt about it. However, this generally does not eliminate individual concerns about vaccination. (walk)

Steffen Augsberg

The 44-year-old scientist has been teaching public law at Justus Liebig University in Giessen since 2013. In 2016, he was appointed to the independent committee of experts, the German Ethical Council. (fp)

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