Czech Constitutional Court to Decide on Mandatory Vaccination Law

The Czech Republic's law requiring vaccinations for children before entering kindergarten has once again been thrown into the spotlight, this time by a Constitutional Court case that should bring some clarity to the law's constitutionality.

Current Czech law states that children must receive six vaccinations before their third birthday, and must be fully vaccinated upon entering kindergarten. This vaccination regime has been the subject of much controversy, which has now been renewed by a mother's appeal to the Constitutional Court against the forced vaccination of her son.

Four years ago, Barbora Zemanová, the mother of Prokop, refused to have her son vaccinated. When Prokop was refused enrollment at the local kindergarten because he lacked the necessary vaccinations, Ms. Zemanová went to court against the law.

Government seeks to protect other children

The Constitutional Court will now consider the matter. It will look specifically at the sections of the law that forbid unvaccinated children from entering school and determine if this feature of the bill is constitutional.

Ms. Zemanová has remained adamant that it isn't: "I want to appeal against it, because I perceive it as something I disagree with. I have addressed the League of Human Rights in this matter."

The authorities, however, believe the law is necessary. The cabinet of Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has already issued its report to the Court, recommending keeping the law in its current form."It's not just about the child's rights or parents' right to decide whether they want their child to be vaccinated against a serious disease, it is also about the protection of other children," said Minister for Human Rights and Legislation Jiří Dienstibier (ČSSD).

Imperative for Czechs but not their neighbors?

The vaccination regime is at the center of a long-running dispute. Its supporters claim that it protects other children: "These measures must [be enforced], otherwise we may witness a disease growth, which can be prevented only by vaccination," warns Roman Prymula, head of the Czech Immunisation Society.

But the opponents of vaccinations point to the side effects: "Our state has not commented on why it's imperative for us, while in Austria or Germany, the vaccinations are not mandatory," said Rebeka Vadašová of the Initiative for Freedom of Choice in Vaccination.

The issue of vaccinating young children was dealt with by the Supreme Administrative Court in a case from February, ending a dispute between the Ministry of Health and parents who feared the risks associated with mandatory vaccination. That judgment held that parents must have their children vaccinated, and a negative opinion on vaccination and fear of possible risks does not remove the obligation.