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Σάββατο, 27 Νοεμβρίου, 2021
ΑρχικήEnglish EditionConstitutional rights and vaccination

Constitutional rights and vaccination

By Katerina Papadea,

The Covid era, an intense and stressful period for Greece, as well as the global society, seems to be in its final stages, as vaccination is supported by Health Authorities as motivation and the foundation for a return to reality. However, disagreement over the suitability and the effectiveness of the vaccine is obvious, which delays the end of the pandemic and forces the government to implement “tighter” measures.
Initially, the reasons which are put forward against vaccination are the possible side effects and safety issues of vaccines, due to the short clinical trials. Unquestionably, the arguments opposed to vaccination, are valid and reasonable, but it is also extremely important to take into consideration the high risk and threat to our health if we get exposed to the virus and, most importantly, to ask ourselves whether it is worth endangering humanity and world health for the doubts of some.
It goes without saying that since we live in a free and democratic country, all the citizens have the legal right to express their opinion freely. This fact leads many to arbitrary conclusions about the obligation of the vaccine, taking for granted that they choose whether to be vaccinated or not. So, does that mean that if the government makes vaccination compulsory and starts excluding unvaccinated groups from social life, it violates their freedom and rights? Ιs the vaccination, then, incompatible with the Greek Constitution and humans rights law?
Obviously, the extrajudicial extradition and the unauthorized administration of the vaccine constitutes a violation of human rights. However, this is something completely different from the case, where legal effects are to be established for unvaccinated groups of people, who are strongly opposed to vaccination. Precisely because we live in a democracy, where, as Otto von Bismarck has said, “one’s freedom stops where the other’s freedom begins”, and precisely because one refuses to be vaccinated, can be detrimental to the health of others, some revisions are made as to what constitutes a violation of rights and what does not. It is essential to know that not all rights are inviolable, given and regardless of circumstances, and that most of the established rights are relevant, and therefore can be restricted under certain conditions.

image source: https://pixabay.com/el/photos/γραφής-αποστολή-πένα-μελάνι-1209121/

First, any restriction of rights, in this case, the right of free choice, should be aimed at the protection of the public interest specifically the protection of public health. Taking this into account, any measure required to protect public health which is based on experts’ opinion, is legitimate. Secondly, any restrictive measure should be provided by law, so that the obligation of vaccination should become a requirement of law, and there will be legal consequences for any action contrary to the law. Thirdly, in a democratic society, the principle of modernity and proportionality must be met, and therefore the restrictive measure must be necessary and proportionate to the aim pursued, which is public health. The above condition implies a measure, as little as possible in terms of the rights to be restricted. Consequently, on the basis of scientific data, if refusal to vaccination is detrimental to the common good, general interest, and public health, as well as abusive to the others’ rights, the enshrined legal consequences are compatible with the national constitution and with the European Convention on Human Rights.
In conclusion, if these conditions are met, a company may dismiss an employee, who refuses to be vaccinated and endangers his colleagues, and a store may prohibit the entry of unvaccinated customers, arguing to protect staff and other customers, without at the same time these actions being considered as actions contrary to the Constitution.

  • Εμβολιασμός: υποχρεωτικότητα, συνταγματικότητα και ανισότητες, in.gr, διαθέσιμο εδώ
  • The People’s constitution: Can the government require the covid 19 vaccine?, loudounnow, διαθέσιμο εδώ
  • Are mandatory vaccinations and vaccine passports constitutional?, pacificlegal.org, διαθέσιμο εδώ


Katerina Papadea
She is an Undergraduate student in the department of International and European Studies at the University of Piraeus. She speaks English and German. She likes to deal with the news and to be informed in many ways in order to form her own point of view. News keeps you awake and does not let you focus on theory but practices every situation and every definition. She likes foreign languages, and she believes learning them broadens the way of thinking and helps us understand the world, through different political, economic and social conditions. Her favourite music is old Rocks from 80’s - 90’s.