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Time for mandatory vaccinations

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28.11.2021

German Health Minister Jens Spahn has said he fears a general vaccine mandate would widen divisions in society and entrench people in their positions. Other politicians have expressed similar views in recent weeks and months. My impression is that people always tend to fall back on the threat of division when they don't want to make unpleasant decisions.

Ines Eisele is a DW editor

And it's nonsense. A homogeneous society is, and always has been, a theoretical construct. Real society is heterogeneous, and has many fault lines — it is, you could say, divided. As long as no decisions are made — especially not about COVID measures, or mandatory vaccinations — politicians are able to keep all the citizens onside. By putting off the decisions, we're not making any headway at all — and squandering valuable time.

Incidentally: If social harmony is what's at stake, there's more to be said in favor of a COVID vaccine mandate than against it. Although not everyone supports mandatory vaccinations, the majority of the population now does, as surveys have shown. This is probably one of the reasons why we're beginning to see politicians, among them State Premiers Markus Söder and Winfried Kretschmann, starting to change their minds. The incoming German government also announced a few days ago that it would at least consider making vaccinations mandatory.

This leaves the second argument decision-makers like to use against a general vaccination requirement: that it's incompatible with the Basic Law, Germany's constitution, and that courts could quash it. On the one hand, it's striking that concerns like these were apparently no such deterrent when other legislative projects were under consideration: the climate protection act, for example, which was rejected by the Federal Constitutional Court, or the toll on private motor vehicles, which was overturned by the European Court of Justice.

On the other hand, renowned constitutional lawyers like Ulrich Battis have recently indicated that they consider mandatory vaccinations very much in line with the constitution. Battis' colleague,........

© Deutsche Welle


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